- Mr. Speaker, Sir, private sector is the engine of growth. However, its performance has not been satisfactory owing to a number of obstacles. Key obstacles include macroeconomic instability, high transport and infrastructure costs, management constraints, considerable involvement in the economy by Government through statutory corporations, and liberalisation policies that have left our fragile industry vulnerable. Therefore, whenever domestic industry is hurt, the Government will take necessary safeguard measures to assist it. The Government, however, remains fully committed to liberalisation policies.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, Government is committed to promoting private sector development. In this respect, Government will ensure that there is a conducive investment climate for private sector participation. I wish to mention that with the support of co-operating partners, Government is working on a Private Sector Development (PSD) project that will address the various constraints highlighted. Among other things, the project will develop a private sector development strategy and action plan.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, Government will continue to encourage local exporters to take advantage of regional markets, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African States (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Malawi also stands to benefit from the AGOA initiative. AGOA is a new Trade and Development Act of the United States of America (USA) which offers duty free access to the USA of manufactured products originating from Sub-Saharan African countries.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, Malawi was designated an AGOA beneficiary country on October 1st, 2000 after successfully meeting the eligibility criteria requirements as stipulated by the USA Federal Government under AGOA or the Trade Development Act 2000. Malawi became a textile and apparel beneficiary country on August 17th, 2001, after fulfilling a number of requirements. Mr. Speaker, Sir, AGOA does not only cover textiles and apparels: It extends to cover agricultural products such as peanuts, leguminous vegetables, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, tobacco and others. Government has put in place inter-ministerial committees to work on outstanding issues to ensure that Malawi maximises her benefits from AGOA. Let me, therefore, appeal to the private sector to rise to this challenge and benefit from AGOA. Government on its part will do whatever is possible to ensure that the private sector benefits from AGOA.