China has urged Malawi to take advantage of the duty-free trade agreement with the world’s second largest economy by beefing up its industrial sector to export more goods.
Chinese embassy economic counsellor Hudson Wang, in an interview in Lilongwe last week, said his government is working hard to ensure that Malawi broadens its export base.
Figures from the embassy show that in 2015, trade between the two countries was valued at $200 million (about K138 billion) with Malawi exporting goods worth about $40 million (K28 billion).
“As China, we are happy with the relationship we have with Malawi and since the establishment of the relationship, we have enjoyed a trade surplus, but we are working hard to ensure that Malawi exports a lot of goods to China.
“What Malawi needs to do now is to work hard on industrialisation because value added products can compete well with other products in China,” he said.
Hudson said most of the goods Malawi imports from China include textile, industrial equipment and furniture.
“Since Malawi imports a lot of Chinese products, we deliberately started purchasing tobacco to balance up the trade even though the kind of tobacco we need to manufacture cigarettes is not what Malawi produces in large quantities,” he said.
Hudson said there are many investors ready to come and invest in Malawi but many of them are entrepreneurs.
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) chief executive officer Clement Kumbemba, in a separate interview, said the one-stop investment centre will continue to encourage Malawians to produce more for the export market.
“This June, there will be a Malawi-China Investment Forum where we expect over 100 Chinese companies to attend. Our appetite for imports is unlimited; hence, organising investment forums because Malawi is weak on the supply side and has huge trade imbalances with its trading partners,” he said.