Malawi has joined fellow African Union (AU) Member States to formally launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Niamey, Niger on 7th July, 2019.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement(AfCFTA) is a preferential trade agreement amongst 55 African Union member states, with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement of people and later adopting a single-currency.
The AfCFTA will be the world’s largest trade bloc uniting 55 countries & 1.3 billion people. It will bring the promise of trade-led economic growth closer to reality for entrepreneurs, industrialists, investors, innovators & service suppliers.
The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA), was the major focus at the AU summit. Malawi attended the Summit and Hon. Francis Kasaila M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation represented His Excellency Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika President of the Republic of Malawi.
Malawi is among 54 countries that have signed the AfCFTA agreement . So far 27 countries have ratified the agreement and Malawi is amongst the 28 countries that have not yet ratified the AfCFTA Agreement that entered into force on 30th May 2019 when 22 member states ratified the Agreement. During the Summit, the Republic of Nigeria and Benin signed and became part of the AfCFTA agreement leaving Eritrea as the only non-signatory country.
Commenting on the issue after the Summit, Hon. Kasaila emphasized the need for Malawians to invest in production of quality products in large quantities in order to compete, benefit and meet the demand of the market across the continent.
He added that Malawi should take full advantage of the opportunity that has been created by the AfCFTA as it will boost its economy and create jobs for Malawi’s young, dynamic and hardworking population.
The AfCFTA was initially signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on 21 March , 2018, and at the Niamey Extraordinary Summit, the African leaders endorsed 1st July, 2020, as the beginning date of trading under the Agreement.
Some, however, fear that cheaper imports will hit small manufacturers and smallholder farmers while other countries would face a short-term hit to revenues but competition would drive innovation.
The Summit also endorsed ACCRA, Ghana as the host of the AfCFTA Secretariat after beating other countries such as Kenya, eSwatini, Madagascar who also bid to host this very important institution.