A lead expert at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Martha Bhanyima says the competitiveness of Malawian products now largely depends on the readiness of manufacturers to take advantage of market linkages that would be created when industry embraces the use of locally sourced materials.
Speaking in Blantyre on Tuesday at the start of a four day Local Sourcing for Partnerships Project which is being held jointly by the Comesa Business Council and the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Bhanyima said the low level of intra–Comesa trade is largely a reflection of low level industrialisation, diversification and production of competitive products across countries.
“You have to upgrade systems and technologies. You have to invest in compliance, that’s how you build competitiveness. Comesa recognises the importance of industrialisation for inclusive and sustained growth and in driving structural changes and the transformation we are seeking to create jobs and improve livelihoods,” she said.
Director of Finance in the Ministry of Industry and Trade Joseph Mkandawire said buying locally produced products and supporting local service providers could guarantee long term creation of job opportunities for Malawians, among other economic benefits to accrue to the economy.
“If we keep supporting local producers and manufacturers by buying goods made in Malawi, then we would all contribute towards creating a bigger demand for home grown products,” said Mkandawire.
Mkandawire said the growing appetite for imported commodities has resulted in the widening of the trade gap between Malawi and the rest of the world.
“Over the period 2009 to 2013, Malawi’s exports and imports increased by 159 percent and 245 percent, respectively. The weak trade imbalance speaks of an economy that has a huge appetite for imported goods and services, some of which we can produce locally.