The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat and the Malawian government have signed a 3.54 million Euros agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities under the broader trade facilitation programme with COMESA at Mchinji border post between Zambia and Malawi on the Malawian side.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade in Malawi, Christina Zakeyo, and COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe, separately signed the sub-delegation agreement in Lilongwe and Lusaka this week.
The project will support the implementation of key pillars of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operations and the implementation of major activities among them being the upgrading of the customs e-management system and bandwidth, improving inter-agency connectivity, implementation of the trade and transport corridor management system, capacity building, training and sensitisation of national trade facilitation committee and border agencies among others.
According to a statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka by COMESA Secretariat Head of Corporate Communications Mwangi Gakunga, the signing of the sub-delegation agreement comes a month after a similar agreement was signed with the Zambian government on 27th November 2020 to upgrade its side of the border post at Mwami.
Malawi’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade Christina Zakeyo noted that the development is part of the 48 million Euros Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) with COMESA, financed under the 11th European Development Fund (11 EDF) with the objective of deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing the competitiveness of the COMESA region.
Ms. Zakeyo stated that the signing of the sub-delegation agreement came after an assessment of existing challenges conducted at Mchinji border post in early 2020.
She has thanked the European Union for the support rendered under the programme through COMESA Secretariat to improve the facilitation of trade at Mchinji/Mwami border post as well as the COMESA Secretary General and her staff for the technical support rendered during the inception and development of Malawi’s project.
“The support is a testimony of the continued and strengthened collaboration between Malawi and the European Union. The Government of Malawi desires to build on current trade facilitation efforts through programmes such as the COMESA Trade Facilitation Project. The interventions at Mchinji border post are expected to enhance efficiency and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business and the support is therefore, timely as Malawi grapples with the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms. Zakeyo stressed.
COMEA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe explained that the modalities of implementation of the sub-delegated activities provide an opportunity for Malawi to take ownership and lead in the implementation of the activities.
“The COMESA Secretariat will provide technical guidance to the project,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jacek Jankowski, Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia and COMESA stated that the signing of the agreement is a welcome move as it is a major step towards reduction in hindrances to trade at the border adding that it will also lead to increased seamless flow of goods between Zambia and Malawi.
Similarly, the chargé d’affaires at the European Union Delegation in Malawi, Aurélie Valtat, expressed optimism that as African states start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the removal of any form of hindrances to cross-border trade is critical to ensure the benefits of open trade.
Ms. Valtat said this is why the European Union remains committed to supporting Malawi’s trade facilitation efforts and to contributing to boosting intra-Africa trade. “By the end of the implementation period of the project, it is expected that clearance times and costs for goods processed through the border posts will be reduced. Likewise, the number of reported non-tariff barriers and cases of corruption and harassment will also record a reduction, while on the other hand, it is expected that there will be a significant increase in revenue collection through increased trade flows,” she noted.