Malawi Government has offered free land to the COMESA Competition Commission as a measure of thanking the Commission for the support it has given to their government during its existence in Malawi for the last 10 years.
According to Simplex Chithyola the Malawi Minister for Trade and Industry, their desire and hope is that the COMESA Competition Commission will find a permanent home in Malawi as it builds its headquarters.
“I acknowledge that pursuant to Article 55 (1) of the COMESA Treaty, COMESA Member States recognised the risks that the regional integration agenda could face from anti-competitive practices in the Common Market.
“Therefore, the Member States, Malawi included, committed that, “…any practice which negates the objective of free and liberalised trade shall be prohibited.
“Further, the Member States agreed “…to prohibit any agreement between undertakings or concerted practice which has as its objective or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the Common Market…”, said Chithyola during the COMESA Competition Commission 10 Year Anniversary Celebrations in Lilongwe Malawi.
The COMESA Competition Commission is one of the regional institutions established under Article 55 of the COMESA treaty. It is established under Article 6 of the COMESA Competition Regulations which are promulgated pursuant to Article 55 of the Treaty establishing the Common Market.
The Competition Regulations have a role of achieving the single market integration, which mandates the Commission to enforce the provisions of the Regulations with regard to trade between Member States.
It also promotes competition within the Common Market through monitoring and investigating anti-competitive practices of undertakings within the Common Market and mediating disputes between Member States concerning anti-competitive conduct.
Chithyola said his country believes that anticompetitive practices stand to hinder the growth and development of small businesses which are prominent in the Common Market.
“As a founding Member State of COMESA fully ascribes to the notion of promoting competition in our markets by prohibiting agreements, arrangements or any practices which 12 prevent, restrict or distort competition in the Common Market.
“Our stand on this matter is also evident from the fact that we have a fully operational and effective national competition authority, the Competition and Fair-Trading Commission, which boasts of a positive record of accomplishment in regulating competition and consumer protection matters in Malawi,” added Chithyola.
Chithyola commended the COMESA Competition Commission’s accomplishments in regulating competition, particularly mergers, restrictive business practices, and consumer protection, has without doubt been outstanding and deserves recognition.
Through regulating competition, Chithyola emphasized that the Commission is ensuring that the harmful effects of monopolies and cartels are averted.
“The Commission’s work is central to ensuring that the trade liberalization agenda in the COMESA region promotes growth in the Member States and leads to poverty reduction.
“I would like to encourage the COMESA Competition Commission to continue in its efforts to regulate competition in our markets.
“I would also like to task the COMESA Competition Commission and Malawi’s Competition and FairTrading Commission to ensure that regulation of markets and consumer protection benefits the ordinary citizens in the Common Market.
“I pledge continued support from my government to ensure this continued effective operation,” said Chithyola.
Chithyola said that in order to support the integration processes in COMESA, not so long ago in December 2022, the President of Malawi Lazarus Chakweal and that of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema,presided over the launch of the Mwami/Mchinji One-Stop-Border-Post, a COMESA programme, which was constructed with the support from the African Development Bank and the European Union.
The One-Stop-Border-Post is expected to facilitate trade and integration efforts not only between Malawi and Zambia but for the entire COMESA Region.
It is the desire of the government of Malawi that the COMESA region will continue to experience the benefits that arise from the COMESA programmes to break down the barriers that have stood in the way of cross-border trade.
BY PAUL TENTENA