The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has hailed Malawiâ€™s progress towards the establishment of a Customs Union within the 20-member trade bloc.
In June 2009, the blocâ€™s heads of state launched the Comesa Customs Union in Zimbabwe which was scheduled to be implemented after a three-year transition period.
Since then, the negotiations of creating the Customs Union have centred on progress countries have made on domesticating the Common Tariff Nomenclature (CTN), the Common External Tariff (CET) to be applied on imports from third parties, the Customs Management Regulations to govern customs systems and procedures within the Customs Union, among others.
But according to the 14th meeting of the Comesa Bureau, which took place last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia , Malawi has made significant strides in preparing for the establishment of the Customs Union.
“Malawi â€˜s record in implementing activities in the transition period has been applauded and admired,” reads a Comesa summary of topical issues sourced on Sunday.
Recently, Malawi submitted its Lists of Sensitive and Excluded Products to Comesa secretariat, a feat which, according to the organisation, earned the country the praise of the Comesa Bureau in Addis Ababa.
During the meeting, Comesa also noted that the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) is also tirelessly working on the other customs-related aspects of the transition period such as the CTN, CMR and the CET.
“Malawi was further recommended for the economic reforms underway since the Joyce Banda administration took office,” reads the statement.
Minister of Industry and Trade John Bande, who attended the Comesa Bureau meeting, confirmed the commendation heaped upon Malawi and pleadged strong political will from the Joyce Banda administration, especially on matters of regional integration.
He said the meeting also commended Malawiâ€™s efforts towards establishing the tripartite grand free trade area by Comesa, Sadc and the East African Community (EAC).
Said Bande: “We have been commended in so many ways and not only on progress on the Comesa customs union. As Comesa chair [ Malawi ], we want to be exemplary and practical in issues of economic integration.”
At regional level, Malawi is a member of both Sadc and Comesa.
After attaining the Free Trade Area (FTA) in 2000, the region is in the process of operationalising the Customs Union.
Following the liberalisation of trade in the region, intra-Comesa trade has risen from $3 billion to $17.3 billion from 2000 to 2010, respectively.