By Taonga Sabola
Malawi and Zambia yesterday agreed to strengthen trade ties as one way of economically empowering people of the two countries.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera and Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema reached the agreement in Lilongwe during the Zambian leader’s one-day visit to Malawi.
Briefing reporters at Kamuzu Palace at the end of the visit, Chakwera said Malawi and Zambia were inseparable sisters, tied at the hip by history, culture, geography, economics, values and language.
The Malawi leader of Malawi and Zambia are inextricably linked. That is why, in our bilateral discussions today, we have agreed to fast-track the removal of all bottlenecks to cross-border trading, including a review of the existing Simplified Trade Regime, in order to expand the list of eligible products traded within this framework.
“We have agreed to harmonise and simplify border controls by jointly constructing the One Stop Border Post at Mchinji/Mwami border, which my brother president and I will commission together next year,” he said.
Chakwera, who is also Chairperson for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), said he took advantage of Hichilema’s visit to brief him on Malawi’s priorities as Sadc chairperson.
Top of the list is regional economic integration within the context of operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area.
On his part, Hichilema said Chakwera was not only a neighbour to Zambia but a brother.
He said, just like a tree, the relationship between Malawi and Zambia needed to be watered to flourish.
“We have agreed that we must improve business-to-business links as well. Investing, taking risks. Investors from Malawi, investors from Zambia taking joint risks to explore opportunities that exist between the two countries some of which are anchored in our natural resource endowment,” Hichilema said.
Born on June 4 1962, Hichilema ascended to the hot seat of Zambia’s president on August 24 this year after emerging victorious in the August 12 presidential election.