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Harare-Lilongwe set to finalise trade agreements

By Karen Chinembiri

Zimbabwean ambassador to Malawi, Dr. Nancy Saungweme has revealed that two of the Memorandums of Understandings between Lilongwe and Harare are set to be finalised soon.

Addressing a group of entrepreneurs from Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the Malawi International Trade Fair in Blantyre, Dr Saungweme assured the entrepreneurs that government is working tirelessly to improve arrangements between the two countries.

The Zimbabwean ambassador highlighted that while two of the MoUs are to be finalised soon, they are hoping to speed up and finalise as many other outstanding agreements as soon as possible to ease trade relations.

“As the embassy our work is to make sure we finalise the MoUs between the two governments. These MoUs address issues on  various business relations being handled by various representing ministries in Zimbabwe. We communicate with them expressing our desire to make it easy to trade. That’s what we are working on right now.

“We already held the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation which helps ease business relations between Zimbabwe and Malawi if or when citizens of the two nations want to do business be it in mining, agriculture and even Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) and MRA (Malawi Revenue Authority) relations.

“We have seen quite a number of companies coming through at the Embassy and we are quite happy with that. On our part we follow up and closely monitor those businesses to ensure that they are successful as it benefits us all here in Malawi and back home in Zimbabwe,” she said.

She further encouraged the business gathering that they should act more and talk less, putting politics aside but focus more on economic growth of the two nations. She further encouraged people to add speed and be fast in business to avoid their projects being stolen by others and as governments they are trying to avoid that so everyone wins.

Statistics from Trade Map of the Zim Trade a database developed by International Trade Centre (ITC) show that globally Malawi imported products worth USD 2.94 billion in 2019. This was dominated by machinery and mechanical appliances. Electrical and machinery and equipment as a whole contributed USD 237 million. Other top products imported during that period include fuels, fertilisers, vehicles and vehicle parts, pharmaceutical products, articles of iron or steel, plastics among other other items prompting the ambassador to ask the entrepreneurs to take advantage of these opportunities and import raw materials to Malawi so they can process them and export some of the finished products.

A representative from the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Zimbabwe Privilege Manwa said exhibitions like the recently concluded trade fair provide a platform for people to network.

“Exhibitions are very important because it brings a platform for SMEs to market their products, to find new markets and to network with other business players. This has been a very important platform where the SMEs have managed to connect to the business people in Malawi, they have managed to engage, network and connect. So we encourage SMEs to take advantage of this platform and be part of the exhibition everytime that the ministry has organised the programme for exhibitions and marketing,” said Manwa.

Zimbabwean Blantyre based businessman Phillip Msindo expressed appreciation over the ambassador’s visit and networking with fellow business people and sharing ideas saying it encourages them. He added that he’s happy with the Embassy’s support for the locally based businesses.

Visiting Zimbabwean entrepreneur Wadzanay Kiwanluka expressed her gratitude to the ministry that brought them to Malawi saying it has been an eye opening experience.

“I just want to thank the ministry of Gender, Community Development and SMEs (Zimbabwe) for facilitating our journey to do business here at the MITF. It has been quite a learning and encourage experience. We thank the ambassador for her support and encouragement. We felt welcomed even the Malawi hospitality was amazing,” she said.

The gathering was held in support of entrepreneurs who had travelled for the 32nd Malawi International Trade Fair where 15 Zimbabwean businesses showcased, with the dinner being a platform to discuss issues on how to improve Zim-Malawi trade and explore various opportunities within the two countries.