The Malawian Ministry of Trade and Tourism in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission (AUC) are organizing an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Awareness Workshop in Lilongwe and Blantyre on 17 September and 19 September, respectively.
These workshops aim to engage relevant stakeholders on AfCFTA issues to secure a consensus for Malawi to ratify the AfCFTA Agreement. Each workshop is expected to bring together about 150 participants from private sectors, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, academia, and government.
Salim Bagus, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism said ‘the AfCFTA marks a new dawn to Africa’s economic transformation and Malawi’s economy stands to benefit with the creation of this single market.
“It is a new hope for boosting intra-Africa trade across 55 African countries with a combined population of more than 1.2 billion people.
“The AfCFTA will facilitate increased business opportunities in Malawi in terms of unlimited market and economies of scale which will result in reduced cost of doing business and improved efficiency and profitability of our Industries, SMEs and Exporters.’
The Agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 when the threshold of 22 countries ratified the agreement. The operational phase of the Agreement began on 7 July 2019 at the African Union’s Extraordinary Summit, with a transition period up to 1 July 2020 when trading will start under the deal. Malawi signed the AfCFTA on 21 March 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda.
Said Adejumobi, ECA Regional Director for Southern Africa said “the workshops are a major opportunity to raise awareness about the AfCFTA amongst private and public stakeholders, in Malawi. Moreover, to focus on discussing the perceived challenges and making the best of opportunities that the ratification and implementation of the AfCFTA can bring.”
The AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area. It has the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, within a $2.5 trillion economic bloc.
Ushering in a new era of development
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a Customs Union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization across the continent. The AfCFTA is further expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.
This workshop is part of a more comprehensive project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to ensure effective AfCFTA implementation strategies.