Lilongwe, 9 June 2021, ECA – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) unit, will continue to provide technical assistance to Malawi to enable it benefit fully from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
ATPC’s trade expert Batanai Chikwene gave the assurance today in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe at a workshop to validate the country’s national implementation strategy for the trading bloc. It was the second among three workshops scheduled for this week.
Organized by the Ministry of Trade of Malawi with financial support from the ECA, the meeting brought together stakeholders in the country, including government officials, the private sector operators, women and youth, and civil society organizations.
Mr. Chikwene said the capacity of the country’s trade support institutions would be enhanced so that operators in the trade sector could get all the help they would need to succeed. “Without an efficient and focused network of trade support institutions working to make trade work for Malawi, the benefits of the AfCFTA may take too long to be realized,” he said.
The EU will also continue to back Malawi to develop the strategy as well as boost its capacity for negotiating at sub-regional level, according to a statement by the EU Delegation in Malawi.
The Delegation said it had provided the ECA with 8 million euro for the work of deepening Africa’s trade integration through the effective implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The key will be to attract, protect and nurture foreign direct investment (FDI) and industrialization to Malawi whilst at the same time profiting from a more open market” for Africa’s population, it said.
In his own speech, Clement Kumbemba, Director of Trade in Malawi’s trade ministry, appealed to the private sector players to be proactive in seizing the opportunities provided by the AfCFTA for Malawi’s products.
“It is my conviction that the ultimate beneficiary of the AfCFTA regime is the private sector as they will witness increased business opportunities in terms of unlimited market and economies of scale which will result in reduced cost of doing business and improved efficiency and profitability,” he said.
The AfCFTA is set to create the biggest free trade area in the World with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$2.5 trillion. The bloc has immense opportunities for increasing intra-regional trade, enhancing production, promoting economies of scale, creating jobs, raising incomes and improving the standard of living of the African people.
The ECA through its African Trade Policy Centre has been working with the AU to deepen Africa’s trade integration through the effective implementation of the agreement by supporting the
AfCFTA ratification process through policy advocacy. The ECA is also assisting the member-states to develop national strategies for the implementation of the AfCFTA in partnership with the AUC, International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the EU.
Public Relations Officer
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Lavender C. Degre
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
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