Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe has said it is the wish of Malawi to see more trade volumes between the country and Zimbabwe.
Gwengwe was speaking in Lilongwe Monday when he opened a three-day Malawi- Zimbabwe Solo Trade Exhibition 2021 which is being held under the theme ‘Fostering Trade Partnerships’.
Gwengwe said statistics from the ITC Trade Map indicate that, in 2020, exports from Malawi to Zimbabwe were pegged at $35.3 million.
The majority of the exports were dried leguminous vegetables, soya-bean oil cake and other solid residues, unmanufactured tobacco, soya beans, groundnuts, maize, fibre board, manufactured tobacco and plastic household articles.
Correspondingly, imports from Zimbabwe to Malawi in 2020 were recorded at $31.2 million and they included corrugated paper and paperboard, iron and steel structures, packing containers of paper, paperboard, rough wood, agrochemicals, and seeds.
Gwengwe said in the 2021/2022 National Budget, Malawi has increased the Comesa Simplified Trade Regime threshold from $2,000 to $3,000 to bolster cross border trade with Zimbabwe as well as Zambia.
“The new administration is also focusing much on commercialising the agricultural sector. I am, therefore, confident that this fair can unlock the potential for Malawi to export more of her commodities and agro-processed products to Zimbabwe.
“Equally, the sector presents more opportunities for Zimbabwean companies, say, in the agriculture inputs and implements to supply their products. My plea to the exhibitors, therefore, is that we should not let opportunities presented by this event slip through our hands. Let us interact, reach out, learn from each other and generate more business,” Gwengwe said.
The exhibition, which is taking place at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC), has attracted over 20 firms from Zimbabwe.
Malawi and Zimbabwe signed a bilateral trade agreement in 1995, which allows duty-free imports on a reciprocal basis, provided the goods meet 25 percent minimum domestic content provisions and conform to each other’s standards.
In addition, Malawi and Zimbabwe are both members of Comesa and Sadc, which enable traders from the two countries to export or import goods duty-free and quota-free.
Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Malawi Nancy Saungweme concurred with Gwengwe on the need to grow trade between Malawi and Zimbabwe.
“It is worrying to note that trade between the two countries has been insignificant. There is a need to capitalise on our close proximity to boost trade,” Saungweme said.