The Malawi Government is making some headway towards the implementation and domestication of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) customs union instruments to promote free trade, Business News has learnt.
Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said in an interview on Monday the country has so far aligned 1 505 tariffs to the Comesa external tariffs structure.
He, however, said there is still much more work to be done as the country has not yet finished working on the process of aligning the tariffs to Comesa’s external tariffs structure.
Nkombezi said Malawi came up with a sensitive list of products which Comesa assessed and government is now working on.
“On the sensitive list of products, we have poultry, maize, sugar and coffee which we are assessing depending on the comments that the common market provided,” he said.
Nkombezi said domesticating Comesa customs management regulations is pending review of Customs and Excise Act to align itself to Comesa.
“When Comesa officials came and assessed the new act, they said it is 99 percent aligned to the customs management regulations. This means we are on track,” he said.
Nkombezi said local businesses involved in import and export business will enjoy reduced cost of doing business once the alignment is in full force.
“Importing and exporting will be far much easy for the local industries as the union will remove trade hurdles,” he said.
The Comesa 2014 annual report indicated that Malawi’s total trade-related tariffs, which include all revenue from tariffs plus customs excise duties and value added tax (VAT) would increase by 22.2 percent upon implementation of the common external tariffs structure.
“The Comesa region continues to face challenges with the implementation of the customs union amid continued domestication efforts even though the time frame of December 2014 has already elapsed. In this regard, it was proposed that the time frame for implementation be 2015,” reads the report in part.
The Comesa customs union was launched at a summit of Comesa heads of State and government in June 2009 in Zimbabwe.
At the meeting, member States agreed to enact the Common External Tariff (CET) and the Customs Management Regulations (CMRs)