Launch of the Zim-Malawi trade exhibition

The Chronicle

Prosper Ndlovu in Lilongwe, Malawi
THE Zimbabwe Malawi Solo Trade Exhibition kicks off here today with local businesses looking to expand their export market and increase foreign exchange earnings for the economy.

The three-day exhibition is coordinated by the country’s trade promotion and development agency, ZimTrade, in collaboration with the Malawi Trade and Investment Center (MITC) and the Zimbabwe Embassy in Malawi under the theme “Fostering commercial partnerships”.

About 30 local businesses are expected and by the end of yesterday some had already arrived at the Bingu Wamutharika International Conference Center, where they set up their exhibition stands to engage with Malawian buyers.

The companies are drawn from the rapidly changing consumer goods, agricultural inputs and tools, home and office furniture, and building and construction sectors.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Malawi, Dr Nancy Saungweme, paid a pre-event tour of the company’s booths and expressed satisfaction with the attendance.

“I am so happy that our companies are arriving in numbers. There is a lot of export potential here, ”she said while urging local producers to export more to Malawi, a market dominated by South African products.

Amb Saungweme also said that Malawi has around 3,000 resident Zimbabweans, who are keen to consume local produce and have also gone further to exploit business opportunities in the regional sister country.

The exhibition takes place under strict Covid-19 prevention protocols and builds the momentum of the Second Republic for robust economic development, which has seen the shift from traditional diplomacy to economic diplomacy, which is expected to improve currency and investment flows.

“We are rolling and ready to engage with Malawian buyers and we hope that there is a lot of potential in this market for Zimbabwean products,” said ZimTrade Director of Operations, Mr. Similo Nkala, who is part of the Delegation.

“We already have a bilateral trade agreement with Malawi and tomorrow ZimTrade will sign a memorandum of understanding with MITC. The two countries are already part of the SADC and Comesa trade treaties and we now have the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“With the disruption caused by Covid-19, that means there should be an increase in intra-regional trade and we really have to rely on each other as African states.”

Given the limitations of hosting trade shows due to Covid-19, Mr Nkala said ZimTrade focuses on initiatives that promote trade such as overseas trade missions and conducting studies of export market that help local businesses.

Under the National Development Strategy 1, a five-year plan launched last year, economic diplomacy is crucial to improving the country’s image, improving relations with the international community and stimulating investment.

The first-ever trade promotion event in Lilongwe is expected to improve engagements between businesses from both countries where local businesses will meet buyers of products and services, as well as suppliers of raw materials.

“Thus, the focus will be on Zimbabwe, which improves the quality of engagements between local exporters and buyers in the markets,” ZimTrade Managing Director, Mr. Allan Majuru said earlier.

While cordial political relations exist between Lilongwe and Harare, Mr Majuru said it was possible to translate them into economic gains by increasing trade and economic cooperation.

According to Trade Map, total trade between Zimbabwe and Malawi increased from US $ 126 million in 2015 to US $ 51 million in 2019 and the trade balance was in favor of Malawi.

Zimbabwe’s top exports to Malawi in 2019 included corrugated paper and board; coal coke and semi-coke; cement; iron and steel structures; packaging containers of paper, cardboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers; raw wood; agrochemicals; seeds, corn and fish.

Zimbabwe’s imports from Malawi include dried leguminous vegetables; soybean meal and other solid residues; unmanufactured tobacco; soybeans; peanuts, corn, fibreboard, manufactured tobacco and plastic household items.

In October last year, President Mnangagwa met with his Malawian counterpart, Lazarus Chikwera, where discussions focused on how the two countries can harness their natural resources to improve the lives of their citizens through production and productivity.

This commitment allowed the two leaders and their governments to refocus their cooperation in the areas of trade, agriculture, mining and social services.

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