By Salome Gangire – Mana.
The Ministry of Trade has challenged the private sector to focus on value addition and produce high quality products that can compete on international market.
The appeal comes when the country is about to start implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) from 1st July this year (2021).
Director of Trade in the ministry, Clement Kumbemba, made the call recently in Mzuzu during a review and validation workshop for Malawi AFCFTA National Implementation Strategy.
He said the private sector needs to invest more in modern technology to ensure the country’s products surpass those produced by neighbouring countries.
Kumbemba said: “We don’t want just to produce for the sake of producing as Africa tends to produce homogenous products, but we want to focus more on value addition by producing products that are appealing because ultimately, the customer will go for products that are of high quality.”
He said the AFCFTA Strategy is crucial to the nation as it points at areas where the private sector needs to work hard to address issues of quality and production of products that are based on innovation.
“We will be competing with over 55 countries in Africa and a strategy is very important for Malawi to look at areas where we have advantages and where there are challenges that we need to deal with as we start implementing the agreement,” he said.
Program Management Officer for African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), Batanai Chikwene, hailed Malawi Government for domesticating the AFCFTA Agreement and making preparations to ensure that trade under the AFCFTA in Malawi commences in earnest on 1st July, 2021.
He said the domestication of the AFCFTA was a clear signal of government’s commitment to implement the agreement.
However, he asked government to provide a conducive environment for exporters and importers to do business and set up firms that can compete globally.
Chikwene further said this could be done by working on the cost of energy and utilities infrastructure so that after production, goods can be moved to the consumers.
A representative of the private sector, Christopher Gondwe of Mzuzu Coffee, said with free trade area, companies would benefit as the agreement would open up new markets for products in Africa.
He, however, said companies need to produce quality products to stand the competition which he said will be high on the market.
African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a free trade arrangement established among African countries to conduct trade amongst themselves without charging one another other customs duties.
The arrangement aims at ensuring that African countries start trading more among themselves and creating wealth for Africa to benefit African populations.