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South Africa’s reopening excites cross-border traders

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Hopes are high among local cross-border traders that reopening of South African borders would help bring their trade back to normal.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday that the country— one of the nations hardest hit by coronavirus—is preparing to reopen its borders on October 1.

Reacting in an interview, Association of Cross-border Traders in Malawi chairperson, Esther Tchukambiri, said most traders had run out of stock months ago.

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However, Tchukambiri prayed that travel regulations have to be put in place to protect the traders from any possible harm.

“They [the two governments of Malawi and South Africa] are supposed to put some security measures so that cross-border traders should follow when conducting business in the country,” she said.

While welcoming the development, economic expert, Betchani Tcheleni said the government should be cautious before resumption of cross border-trade puts pressure on foreign exchange.

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“We have to be concerned with the decrease in supply of foreign exchange on the market because the foreign exchange market may become volatile as there will be high demand,” Tcheleni said.

South Africa has strong trading links with Malawi, a landlocked country, which relies heavily on other countries to access the sea.

Recent data from the International Trade Centre trade map shows that in 2018 alone, Malawi exported goods worth $86.6 million to South Africa compared to $888 million exported to other countries.

Malawi imported goods worth over $500 million which is nearly one-fifth of the $2.7 billion worth of imports the country acquired from the whole world.

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