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Trade imbalance worries China

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Chinese government officials have urged Malawian exporters to up their game and take advantage of trade opportunities existing between the two countries.

This was learnt during a visit to Sichuan Province by African journalists where they met with provincial officials from different sectors who gave briefings about strides and opportunities that can be shared between China and Africa.

Sichuan is the sixth largest provincial economy in China, boasting of a GDP of about US$450 billion but the visit exposed glaring trade imbalance between the province and Africa.

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Deputy Chief in the Division of international trade and Economic Affairs in the Province, Julia Xiong, disclosed that last year’s provincial exports to Malawi amounted to US$3 million while there was no single product from Malawi during the same period.

This is common in all the largest provinces like Guangdong, Shandong, Hangzhou and Zhejiang, among others, where officials have expressed similar sentiments of trade imbalance.

However, the Chinese Government provided trade preferential facility with zero duty aiming at boosting Malawi’s exports to China involving several products.

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Despite unavailability of latest annual national figures between the two countries, recent figures show a jump of the almost one way trade volumes by over 400 percent since the start of diplomatic relations to near US$300 million.

“There is need for market segmentation and identifying of products Malawian exporters can focus on. Economic levels are different so Malawi cannot meet the demands of Chinese market but specific products can be identified,” said Xiong.

She cited art and craft, textile, among other products, that can find markets in China and further suggested that increased Chinese companies’ investments in Malawi could boost trade between the two countries.

Deputy Director of Protocol and Information Division in the provincial department of Foreign Affairs, Xiao Yonggang, said the media could play a crucial role in publicising opportunities that exist between the two countries recognising several areas that call for improved cooperation and sharing.

Sichuan is one of the technological hubs in China boosting high-tech industrial growth and research development in different technological areas including aircraft manufacturing.

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