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China grants Malawi, others duty-free status

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China has granted a zero-tariff treatment to about 98 percent taxable products from Malawi and nine other least developed countries from December 1.

The other countries include Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

In a statement, China’s Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council says this is in a bid to promote an open global economy.

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“The step is conducive to opening up with win-win outcomes, building an open global economy and helping least developed countries accelerate their development,” the statement reads.

Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson Mayeso Msokera Tuesday said the move means that there will be easy access to Malawian products in China.

He said this is important for Malawi as it promotes exports.

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“We want to encourage the private sector to take advantage of this opportunity and, as a ministry, we are excited because this offers a market for our products,” he said.

Malawi has seen similar opportunities before, where a market has been found on the international arena but the private sector has not been able to satisfy demand.

Msokera then urged private sector players to intensify efforts aimed at in increasing output while maximising output.

“It will be easier if players in the private sector start exporting in bulk by aggregating their produce and exporting in groups rather than operating as individual enterprises,” he said.

One of the local exporters, Ellen Gunda of Fortune Gardens Investments, welcomed the development.

“We need government institutions such as the Malawi Trade and Investment Centre to facilitate direct links with markets such as those in China so that we are able to make negotiations and produce what is required,” she said.

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