The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has said securing duty-free access to the United Kingdom (UK) market creates certainty for local entrepreneurs.
The ministry’s spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said this yesterday in reaction to the UK government’s commitment to enable duty-free access to the UK market and providing new opportunities to increase trade links for the world’s poorest countries, including Malawi.
In a statement dated June 24, the UK says this commitment means that around 48 countries across the globe will continue to benefit from duty-free exports into the UK on all goods other than arms and ammunition, known as ‘everything but arms’.
The UK said its government will continue to deliver improved support to the beneficiary countries by helping them break down the barriers to trade, supporting critical trade infrastructure such as ports and roads, and building trade skills in those countries, so that they can take better advantage of trading opportunities.
In an interview, Nkombezi said this is a welcome development.
He said: “We are looking forward to having good trading arrangement with the UK. We are also looking forward to see how exports from Malawi can face minimal non-tariff barriers [NTBs].
“On the other hand, we hope Malawians can take advantage of this opportunity to export more to UK market thereby generating more foreign exchange earnings, employment and creating more wealth for the country.”
Over the last five years, on average, the top five export destinations for Malawian products were Belgium, South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the UK, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO).
For instance, in 2015, 95 percent of all exports to Belgium were tobacco. Besides Belgium, the UK is another significant market in Europe for Malawian products constituting about six percent of all exports in 2015.
In the statement, UK international trade secretary Liam Fox said the departure from the EU is an opportunity to step up commitments to the rest of the world, not step away from them.
“Behind the ‘duty-free exports’ are countless stories of people in developing countries working hard to provide for themselves and their families by exporting everyday goods such as cocoa, bananas and roses, resulting in lower prices and greater choice for consumers,” he said.
UK international development secretary Priti Patel said UK is using its position as a great, global trading nation to seize opportunities to lift countries out of grinding poverty.
Around £20 billion (K18.6 trillion) a year of goods are shipped to the UK from developing countries, accounting for around half of the UK’s clothing, a quarter of our coffee and other everyday goods such as cocoa, bananas and roses. n