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Stakeholders to tackle US tobacco ban issue

MAIN FOREX EARNER—Tobacco

Newly-elected president for International Tobacco Growers Association Abel Banda has said they would make their position on the United States (UN) government’s decision to ban tobacco and tobacco products from Malawi over alleged child labour activities.

Banda said a stakeholders’ meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow to discuss America’s Withhold Release Order (WRO).

Addressing members of the press Monday, Banda said he had received communication from Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Ministry that the matter would be looked into by all concerned stakeholders.

“Most of you have heard about the communication about WRO by America on our tobacco and tobacco products. This issue is to be handled by all stakeholders. A meeting has been called on November 13 2019. We are going to talk about the matter when the government makes its decision,” he said.

The US is among the biggest importers of tobacco from Malawi.

The US Government banned Malawi tobacco in reaction to the United Kingdom’s law firm’s decision to consider taking legal action against British American Tobacco (BAT) on allegation that the company benefits from child and forced labour in some of Malawi’s districts such as Phalombe.

BAT dismissed such reports saying it has never supported child labour in tobacco farms in Malawi.

Tobacco is Malawi’s principal foreign exchange earner and this season raked $232 million.

Burley tobacco from Malawi makes 6.6 percent of world tobacco exports and overall tobacco accounts for over 50 percent of the country’s foreign earnings, according to Malawi Investment and Trade Centre.

Meanwhile, ITGA held its annual general meeting in Santiago, Dominican Republic where Banda was elected the association’s president.

Banda said the position would put Malawi on the map as it would be the focal point on tobacco growing issues worldwide.

The term of office is two years with a maximum of two terms.

Banda has succeeded Daniel Green from the US.

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