COMESA Secretariat and the Government of Malawi have signed a 3.54 million Euros agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities under the broader Trade Facilitation Programme at Mchinji border post between Zambia and Malawi on the Malawian side.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Malawi, Ms. Christina Zakeyo, and Secretary General, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, separately signed the sub-delegation agreement in Lilongwe and Lusaka earlier in the week ending January 22. The project will support the implementation of key pillars of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operations.
Some of the major activities to be implemented under this agreement include upgrading the customs e-management system and bandwidth, improving inter-agency connectivity, implementation of the Trade and Transport Corridor Management System, capacity building, training and sensitization of National Trade Facilitation Committee and Border Agencies among others. The signing of the sub-delegation agreement comes a month after a similar agreement was signed with the Zambian Government to upgrade its side of the border post at Mwami.
This new development is part of the 48 million Euros Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) with COMESA financed under the 11th European Development Fund (11 EDF) whose objective is to deepen regional integration, improve inclusive regional economic growth and enhance the competitiveness of the COMESA region.
Principal Secretary 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 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. Ms Zakeyo added that the support is a testimony of the continued and strengthened collaboration between Malawi and the European Union.
Secretary General Kapwepwe and her staff were also commended for the technical support rendered during the inception and development of Malawi’s project. The Government of Malawi desires to build on current trade facilitation efforts through programs 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 added.
In her remarks, Secretary General 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.
Mr. Jacek Jankowski, Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia and COMESA stated that “We welcome the signing of the agreement as a major step towards reduction in hindrances to trade at the border and that will lead to increased seamless flow of goods between Zambia and Malawi.”
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.