Malawi, alongside counterparts in the Common Market for East and Central Africa (Comesa), is set to benefit from the European Union (EU) and Comesa 48.3 million Euros (about K41 billion) trade facilitation programme compact signed on Tuesday.
The Comesa Trade Facilitation Programme (CTFP) aims at deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing competitiveness of the Comesa region.
This paves the way to commence the implementation of the planned activities in the whole Comesa region as well as at the targeted corridors and border areas in the Comesa region.
In a statement published on Wednesday, Comesa secretary general Chileshe Kapwepwe cited the lack of coordinated border controls, seamless exchange of information as well as Trade and Transport Corridor Monitoring System as some major causes of high freight costs in the Comesa region compared with other regions.
According to her, the programme will ensure trade policy liberalisation and infrastructure improvements, accompanied by improved border management and logistics are supported to reduce freight costs, increase competitiveness and fully exploit the economic potential of the Comesa region.
Earlier, an official from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Malawian said exporters are finding it hard to benefit from preferential market access to a number of developed and developing markets due to inadequate productive capacity and overlapping membership.
The Programme is financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
The final beneficiaries of the programme are the member states and citizens of Comesa and the United Republic of Tanzania, either directly or indirectly through their central and regional and local administrations or public or semi-public institutions.
The programme comprises five key result areas: improved monitoring and removal of non-tariff barriers; enhanced implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement; strengthen coordinated border management and trade and transport facilitation; improved levels of implementation of harmonised, science based sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS); measures and technical standards; and enhanced trade in services, free movement of persons, trade negotiations, intellectual property and trade promotions are supported.
Comesa secretariat will be responsible for managing the overall coordination of this programme, with sub activities sub-delegated to Member States and other implementing agencies to ensure the greatest impacts and the best value for money.