The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has said change of political and economic climate has inspired confidence in both local and international exhibitors to participate in the 24th Malawi International Trade Fair.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira told a press briefing in Blantyre on Thursday that preparations for the fair were previously characterised by rigidity and unwillingness as most exhibitors showed some reluctance to participate because of the political and economic climate in Malawi.
But he said with the change of government, MCCCI has in the past two weeks seen a surge in the number of exhibitors from 120 to 170.
President Joyce Banda assumed office on April 7 2012 following the sudden death of Bingu wa Mutharika.
He said before the change of political reins, most international exhibitors thought the climate was not good for business.
“Even local companies showed little interest because they were not looking to the future with hope,” said Kaferapanjira.
High taxes, intermittent power supply, too many regulations, poor governance, infrastructure and economic policies are some of the factors militating against the growth of business in the country.
MCCCI public-private dialogue manager Hope Chavula said so far 15, pavilions have already been booked by exhibitors from Zambia, Pakistan, Tanzania and Kenya.
“The number of both local and international companies confirming participation is increasing on a daily basis. It is encouraging that most Malawians are taking keen interest to participate in this yearâ€™s fair,” he said.
The theme of the fair is â€˜Realising Our Vision: The Export Wayâ€™.
Kaferapanjira said the theme reflects the economic vision in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy which is to transform the country from a predominantly consuming and importing country to a predominantly producing and exporting one.
“The balance of trade is in favour of importing rather than exporting as the trade deficit has been growing at more than 19 percent of gross domestic product. This is a reflection that the country is more inward than outward oriented.
“Research has also shown that 53.4 percent of firms in Malawi use foreign inputs while only 6.4 percent of all firms in Malawi export, compared to 9.7 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 10.4 percent in low income countries,” said Kaferapanjira.
He added that this is a reflection of the presence of investment that considers Malawi as a market for products, saying this need to be changed by allowing more exportation.
The fair offers opportunities to local companies to secure foreign market deals.