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Malawi reviews customs procedures

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The government is reviewing customs and clearing procedures in order to find ways of reducing paperwork which importers and exporters fill when clearing their goods.

Minister of Trade Sosten Gwendwe said this in an interview on the sidelines of the seventh Indigenous Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents (ICCAFA) annual general meeting which was held in Mangochi on Saturday.

Gwengwe said the government had noted that some businessmen were being forced to use unchartered routes when importing and exporting their goods because the procedures for clearing goods at the borders are not user friendly.

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“There is a lot of human and paperwork involvement when one wants to clear goods at the borders. This is what we are working on because we have noted that a lot of traders are using illegal means of importing or exporting because they are not willing to spend a lot of time filling papers at the borders,” he said.

Gwengwe also revealed that, currently, government is putting in place measures which help will increase cross border business.

“We introduced a duty-free week to allow small and medium enterprises to import goods, it is our wish that the ICCAFA members will be handy in facilitating this,” Gwengwe said.

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He then asked the ICCAFA members to take advantage of initiatives the government has undertaken to promote business.

ICCAFA President Kumbuka Kalua commended the government for showing political will to clear obstacles that are affecting businesses of ICCAFA members.

He called on the government to engage players in the telecommunications sector to reduce the cost of data and connectivity as a way of helping businesses that have been affected by Covid.

“Due to Covid, most businesses are done online but, at the moment, the cost of data is high, which is also increasing the cost of doing business for most companies,” he said.

Kalua also pledged continued close corroboration with the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) which is a principal partner for most ICCAFA members.

“We appeal to MRA and government to make sure that our work runs smoothly,” he said.

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