Africa’s largest trading bloc said on Tuesday that protectionist policies are harming economies in the region.
As long as businesses are not exposed to competition from foreign players, they will not be able to compete regionally and internationally, said George Lipimile, CEO of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Competition Commission told Xinhua.
“Countries should not protect their local industries through import bans or high custom duty rates because it harms consumers in the long run,” Lipimile said on the sidelines of the sixth COMESA annual research forum.
The five-day event brought together academia, think tanks, government officials and the private sector from the 21 member states to discuss emerging topical issues in regional integration.
Lipimile said that typically local firms lobby their governments to restrict entry of foreign firms and goods into their markets.
“This restrictive business practice could lead to domination of a market by a single or few firms to the detriment of consumers,” he added.
According to the regional competition watchdog, protectionists’ behavior by companies and countries has a negative impact on economic growth.
Lipimile said that the promotion of a competition culture in the local market benefits consumers because it provides a choice of goods from different producers.
He revealed that governments in the region should prioritize competition because it also attracts foreign direct investment which promotes job creation and skills transfer.
He noted almost all the COMESA member states have put in place national legislation to address anti-competitive business practices.