‘No US import ban on Malawi tobacco’


Minister of Agriculture and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, has said the US Government has not imposed a ban on the importation of tobacco from Malawi.

Nankhumwa was speaking in Lilongwe Thursday at the start of the 2019 Tobacco Industry Conference themed: ‘Collectively Embracing Change for Sustainable Growth’. .

The US Government Customs and Border Protection (CBP) early this month issued a Withhold Release Order on tobacco from Malawi over child and forced labour allegations, meaning shipments arriving in the US would be detained at the port of entry.


The protection would therefore be required to demand that importers prove that the tobacco is not produced under conditions which the US laws prohibit.

Nankhumwa said Malawi can still send and is still sending tobacco to the US but that there are controlled border posts set to screen the tobacco from Malawi.

“There is nothing to worry about. We are continuing to export tobacco to [United States of] America but what we are talking about are just compliance issues which we are saying we are still discussing.


“There have already been consultative meetings. Last week, stakeholders in the tobacco industry met in Lilongwe, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of course the American Embassy. We met in Lilongwe to discuss the very same issue.

“So we are comparing notes so that at the end of the day we review the notes and in the next few days, we are going to make a joint statement on the same. But the truth of the matter is, there is no ban in as far as [exporting] tobacco from Malawi into the United States is concerned,” Nankhumwa said.

He said the government is reviewing the tenancy system which is a bone of contention but also perceived to be catalyst to child and forced labour.

US Embassy Acting Public Affairs Officer, Bryan Dwyer, recently said restrictions on Malawi tobacco may be revoked only if Washington is convinced that use of forced labour in Malawi has ceased

Dwyer said child labour is a significant human rights and governance issue and the Government of Malawi should urgently work with partners to eradicate child labour.

This year, a total of 165.7 million kilograms (kgs) of tobacco were sold generating revenue of $237 million at an average price of $1.43 per kg.

Last year, Malawi sold 202 million kgs of tobacco, realising $337.5 million at an average price of $1.67 per kg.

Tobacco is the Malawi’s main export and foreign earner, and contributes about 13 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

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