By Taonga Sabola in Durban, South Africa:
The 2021 Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) underway in Durban, South Africa, might just be two days old but Malawi has already registered trade deals worth $371 million, Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe has said.
Speaking in Durban yesterday on the sidelines of the IATF, Gwengwe said the deals would see Malawi supplying commodities to regional markets within the African Continental Free Trade Area. The countries include Angola, Botswana, South Africa, South Sudan and Cote d’ Viore.
Gwengwe said among the commodities on high demand in regional markets are maize, beans and rice.
“Specifically, we have struck an additional deal with South Sudan to supply various commodities, mostly maize, beans and rice, worth $168 million from the previous $127 million, making a total of $295 million.
“We also have a deal with Angola worth $50 million, Botswana $40 million and South Africa $20 million for the supply of rice. We have also received a serious enquiry to supply 60, 000 tonnes of rice and other grains to Cote d’ Viore worth approximately $59 million,” Gwengwe said.
He added that Badea and the Reserve Bank of Malawi have signed a trade finance deal of $30 million to facilitate the trade deals.
“In addition to this, our local SMEs participating at this fair have managed to record inquiries worth $4 million dollars,” Gwengwe said.
Some of the 30 Malawian companies participating in the fair have since described the event as an opportunity for growth.
Those who spoke us said they have had several enquiries for their products.
One of the exhibitors, Amaryllis Hotel’s Sales and Marketing Manager Khaira Surtee, said, when they were presented with the opportunity, they knew they needed to use it to showcase the hotel to potential international guests.
“There is a lot of interest in the hotel and tourism sectors because most of the clients we have met are not only interested in visiting Malawi but also invest in these particular sectors. This raises hopes that the sector could grow exponentially in the near future,” Surtee said.
The IATF started on Monday with President Lazarus Chakwera leading a group of 30 Malawian firms which are participating in the continental trade exhibition.
Speaking in Durban on Monday, Chakwera said there are still many obstacles to be lifted to improve the level of production of goods in Africa.
He said it was worrying to note that 85 percent of goods traded in Africa come from outside the continent.
Among other things, Chakwera has bemoaned lack of information about what goods and services supplied in one nation can have a market in another.
The IATF 2021 is aimed at bringing together continental and global players to showcase and exhibit their goods and services, and to explore trade and investment opportunities.