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Malawi signing trade treaties to expand export base

May 07, 2022 / Wahard Betha
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The Malawi Government says it is entering into trade relations with a number of countries in the world’s key trade blocks in order to expand the country’s export market base.

Responding to questions by the Parliamentary Committee on Trade on the status of Malawi’s trade activities, Christina Chitima, the Principal Secretary for the Trade Ministry told the committee that the country has signed various Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with South Africa, Sudan, India and China to export locally produced farm items.

Chitima said the arrangement will ensure that extra local farm produce that cannot be consumed is earmarked for the export market to boost the country’s economy. The secretary gave an example of pigeon peas, which she said has attracted a trade deal that will ship about 50 thousand metric tons of the peas to India.

She said: “Our expectation is that once these arrangements are concluded, farmers will have the opportunity to grow into cooperatives that will work with relevant institutions such as the Agricultural Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC).

“Other local companies, like seed companies, have already started taking advantage of these overseas markets,” Chitima said explaining that the country is strategizing on how best to penetrate into various international export markets.

 “In dealing with the supply side constraints, we have put in place an inter-ministerial committee and a task force to facilitate smooth export trade and proper diversification of our economy.

“The Competition and Fair Trade Commission (CFTC) helps the government in dealing with some local trade problems such as unrealistic high price charges like in the case of cooking oil, sugar and others.”

Chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Simplex Banda, advised the Ministry to consider involving local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) when signing the MOUs.”

“Apart from promoting local participation when signing the MOUs, we have also discussed the need to have a strong legal framework that facilitates creation of conducive environments for investors in this country,” he said, adding that there is need to build symbiotic relationships between the Trade Ministry and other Ministries like industry for fast industrialization, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture.”

Banda also said there is a need for the Ministry to establish a strong relationship with the Department of Immigration as well as the Malawi Police Service in order to curb problems to do with smuggling of products that the country produces. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade has established the Malawi Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Order, which aims at assisting local businesses in finding markets, financial support and eradicate constraints in business and trade

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