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‘Malawi can realise full export potential’

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Standard Bank Malawi Chief Executive Officer Phillip Madinga has said Malawi is capable of realising its full export potential and close the yawning forex gap that has crippled the economy.

Madinga was speaking in Lilongwe during a Trade Cocktail the bank organised.

Madinga’s sentiments come at a time Malawi is facing a $2 billion annual trade shortfall with imports amounting to $3 billion while exports only amount to $1 billion.

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The Standard Bank chief said his bank is putting in place strategies to help ease international trade by simplifying the export process.

He observed that it is unfortunate that Malawi continues to export a lot of produce in its raw form with limited value addition.

This, Madinga said, means the value of the country’s exports has not responded to changes in volume and global demand.

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“Standard Bank understands your business, the struggle you go through to make and receive payments locally and internationally; that’s why we are constantly looking at how best we can support you to stay afloat during these hard economic times.

“As a bank, we offer trading opportunities with China. We do not only concentrate on imports, but also exports. Every year, we pair local exporters with Chinese importers to create trade opportunities under the business matchmaking initiative for Standard Bank and Industrial Commercial Bank of China,” Madinga said.

He has since challenged Malawians to find other commodities that Malawi could easily deliver to high volume regional markets like Kenya that are also gateways to other markets.

“How do we leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area to export goods to markets where we are already importing significant volumes?” Madinga asked.

Over the past 50 years, Malawi has been over-relying on tobacco for its foreign exchange needs.

However, over the last 10 years, tobacco has faced a number of challenges on the international market as the anti-smoking campaign gains momentum.

In 2021, President Lazarus Chakwera challenged the Ministry of Agriculture to start looking at other crops that could replace tobacco as a top forex earner.

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