Malawi President Chakwera Attends Intra-Africa Trade Fair In Durban, Says Trade Obstacles Remain, Need Resolution

Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, a steadfast character, true Pan-Africanist, and one of the most outstanding orators of his generation, on Monday, 15 November, 2021 said trade amongst African nations “is a baby conceived in the womb of our agreements, but a baby yet to be born through our actions”.

Speaking at the Durban Intra-Africa Trade Fair in the Republic of South Africa at the invitation of that country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Chakwera did not mince words but to inform the august gathering there that Africa cannot be a free trade area until member states remove the obstacles that hinder Africans from trading freely across Africa. 

“When that happens, Africa will not just be free to trade, but free to demand a better seat at the table of nations. That time is NOW,” the Malawi leader emphasized. 

Since the African Continental Free Trade Area was ratified eleven (11) months ago, said President Chakwera, there remains much work to be done to turn Africa into an area where the goods and services from all African nations are traded freely in all Africa nations. 

President Chakwera, who is also the Chairperson of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) noted that there remain many obstacles to be lifted to reverse the fact that 85 percent of goods traded in Africa come from outside Africa.  

“One obstacle we must lift to close the gap between our trading dreams and our trading realities is the lack of information about what goods and services supplied in one nation have a market in another. 

“The Intra-African Trade Fair goes a long way to lift this obstacle, and I invite you to visit the Malawi booth, where close to 30 of my country’s Captains of Industry are ready to do business. But for each of the 30 businesses who have come with me here, there are 30 thousand who have not. That is why I must say that if we really want to promote Intra-African Trade, then our aim must not be one Intra-African Trade Fair in one country once every two years, but 55 Intra-African Trade Fairs in 55 African nations every year, even some that are product-specific,” said the Malawi Head of State. 

According to President Chakwera, the second and biggest obstacle member states must lift to close the gap between trading policy and trading practice is the lack of access to the markets in our respective nations. To make Intra-African Trade a reality, member states must make border procedures Intra-African; visa policies Intra-African; tax regimes Intra-African; transport infrastructure Intra-African; bus-line, rail-line, and airline routes Intra-African; electricity distribution Intra-African; fibre and broadband connectivity Intra-Africa; investment policies Intra-African; industrialization and urbanization drives Intra-African; and shops Intra-African, said the President, attracting a loud applause.  

SADC CHAIR ON AFRICAN TRADE, PROSPERITY

In his acceptance address at the Lilongwe SADC Heads of State and Government, President Chakwera emphasized that Africans have a moral duty to refuse second class status in the rules of engagement for participating in the global economy. 

President Chakwera said time had come for African states to work together to put the ratified African Free Trade Area to full use until the economic rules that disadvantage African nations are rewritten.  

“We as Africans have a moral duty to refuse second class status in the restrictions we accept from outsiders for managing our own finances and resources. So the time has come for us to stand together in insisting that our Bretton Woods Institutions reconfigure the terms and conditions they have imposed on us for decades, leaving us in deeper poverty than they found us,” stated President Chakwera.

INSIDE THE INTRA-AFRICA TRADE FAIR  

Intra-Africa Trade-Fair (IATF) is the key event boosting trade in Africa. No other event brings together more professionals under one roof. In 2021, IATF’s theme will focus on the newly-launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – a single market for goods and services across 55 countries, aimed at boosting trade and investment.

Over 1100 exhibitors from different sectors and countries across Africa, including from Malawi, will be showcasing their work at the IATF in Durban in the next seven (7) days. This is a unique African platform to seek investment, forge agreements and promote international cooperation.