The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) says despite being endowed with natural resources, industrialisation in the regional trade bloc has been weak with intra-regional trade at 22 percent.
The Sadc Industrial Week (SIW) declaration draft report observes that member States, including Malawi, have not industrialised and achieved structural transformation from commodity-based economies.
While appreciating notable challenges of industrialisation, including absence of project preparation funds, dependence on short-term financing, weak legal and regulatory frameworks, trade barriers and infrastructure shortcomings, the forum observed that the region must address infrastructure shortcomings, mitigate trade barriers, promote regional innovation and research development.
The forum has since declared regional value chains, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), local development, gender and youths, finance for infrastructure and industrialisation as barriers to trade and trade facilitation and research, innovation and technology development.
Among others, the SIW forum urged member States to introduce duty-free systems on import of raw and packaging materials, provide incentives for local manufacturing, establish pooled procurement on raw materials and medical equipment to promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing and identify barriers in agro-processing, mineral beneficiation and pharmaceuticals as well as the related capital goods and services.
In an interview yesterday, National Working Group on Trade Policy chairperson Frederick Changaya said having policies alone is not adequate.
“We need patriotic operationalisation of such sectors and not use them for personal interest of a few.
“We have to measure performance of such sectors once we operationalise. Fiscal prudence has to be there to allow private sector to enjoy lower cost of funds to be able to compete at regional level,” he said.
Changaya said as a country, there is need for transparency in the management of different value chains and systems.
“The development bank has to come in quickly to support priority sectors and SMEs development,” he said. The fourth annual SIW was held in Tanzania from August 5 to 9 2019.