Malawi has signed a deal worth over $150 million [about K120 billion] with South Sudan to supply maize, maize flour, sugar, rice and ground nuts to that country.
In return, Malawi will be importing petroleum and bitumen from South Sudan.
Speaking in an interview from Juba, South Sudan, Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe said the deal has a blessing of the Afrexim Bank which will help with lines of credit, supporting banks or directly dealing with exporters as a guarantor to transactions.
Gwengwe said South Sudan is a potential market for a lot of Malawian products such as soya, sugar, rice, cooking oil, tea, coffee, poultry products and Irish potatoes while Malawi could tap white petroleum products, bitumen, pharmaceutical products and technology from that country.
“Together, we can combine our endowments and facilitate co-investments among our private sector enterprises that will produce trade in our two nations as well as make strides across the region,” Gwengwe said.
South Sudan Minister of Trade and Industry Kuol Athian said South Sudan is a market for cereals as the country has a deficit of 465, 600 tonnes.
“There is shortage of food in the country (South Sudan), we have been importing, from neighboring countries but our friends from Malawi Government have seen our suffering and want to rescue us,” Athian said.
Grain Traders and Processing Association has since applauded the move, saying, when the deal is between governments, exporters do not face hitches and the prices are established and competitive.
The organisation’s chairperson Grace Mijiga Mhango said it is now up to traders to utilise the opportunity.
“There is also crude oil which the country (South Sudan) manufactures therefore it will increase demand for raw materials such as soya and prices will be satisfying,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry has published a Gazette Supplement to the Control of Goods Act, dated June 4 2021 which, among other things, mandates the trading of grains and legumes only through structured markets that are commodity exchanges or any traders with such a licence.
It further prohibits exportation of such products by individuals or traders but through structured markets.
“The objective of these regulations is to provide for the export of the prescribed grains and legumes in order to bring order and transparency in the export of grains, legumes and oil seeds, and ensure export proceeds are tracked and repatriated to Malawi in accordance with relevant legislation,” reads the gazette.
Agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said unless otherwise interpreted but the regulations are good in bringing about sanity in the export and marketing of agricultural produce.