Malawi-Zimbabwe Talk Trade
Government says choosing to do business with distant countries over neighbors is the cause for shortage of forex in Malawi, making the country struggle with imports, thus urging business captains to start focusing on the neighbors.
Minister of Transport Jacob Hara was speaking in Lilongwe on the sidelines of an interactive meeting which is expected to offer opportunities for business deals for Zimbabwe and Malawi.
This is the reason Minister Hara said it is illogical that despite the proximity, trade between the two countries is low, and they do not benefit from each other because they lose forex to the distant countries than they could, if they exchanged trade deals.
“Imagine despite being neighbors, Malawi taps only 60 million dollars from trade with Zimbabwe annually, far less than we could benefit if we had established sustainable trade deals between us,” said Hara.
“Trade relations between neighbors is like doing trade within the household, so that money does not leave the family. We can see what our neighbors do not have, and supply them. That way, we can grow the economy of both countries,” he added.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer for CEO Africa Roundtable Kipson Gundani said the countries are each other’s target markets, adding for example, Zimbabwe now needs to buy 400 thousand tons of maize from Malawi, and that this kind of dependency on each other is an opportunity for trade and economic growth.
“We have come to Malawi with men from different sectors with energy solutions, medical solutions, they are also coming in to trade particularly when it comes to agro-products. Your maize, your groundnuts, your rice. Much of the rice that is consumed in Zimbabwe is from Malawi, so we are particularly trying to enforce trade to deal with challenges in these areas,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Investment Trade Company-MITC CEO Paul Kwengwere says this is a business opening the two countries cannot afford to lose, for it enables them to trade back and forth, without too much burdens.
“Our main role is to facilitate the talks in trade deals between the companies. Most times we see people discussing businesses, but then there’s no really proper follow-up. MITC will be doing all that, and ensuring that if there are any challenges, we can actually facilitate dealing with those dark areas,” Kwengwere said.
Participants have noted that Malawi and Zimbabwe are both on the economic recovery path after the global covid-19 pandemic ravaged economies, so in regards to trade, they have an opportunity to offer each other partnerships that can transform them economically.
If it materializes, the engagement will see companies in the two countries offering two-way win-win deals in food processing, textile and mining, among other things.