Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has advised local firms to look beyond the local market and take advantage of new opportunities within the region.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira’s advice during the opening of the 31st Malawi International Trade Fair at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre yesterday.
His sentiments are in line with the theme Achieving Competitiveness Through Integration into Regional Value Chains.
He said the chamber’s assessment of the performance of local companies in fulfilling orders from the previous trade fairs has not been encouraging.
“Working with regional players even by providing a simple service means we are exporting and, therefore, integrated in the regional value chain.
“Providing inputs for domestic companies that finally export their finished products is participating in regional value chains, even if that means indirectly,” said Kaferapanjira.
He observed that from their previous experience and knowledge, there will be representatives from other countries within the region that will be scouting for new sources of raw materials and markets.
Kaferapanjira encouraged local firms to be on the lookout for such opportunities, especially in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern Africa Development Community and the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The trade fair opened without the usual pomp and fanfare associated with it.
As has been the case over the years, the trade fair is opened by the President, but yesterday no government official showed up.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Principal Secretary Ken Ndala, in an interview yesterday, said government did not officially open the trade fair due to security concerns on advice from the chamber.
“We were advised by MCCCI not to officially open the function because of security concerns and that is why we did not come for the function,” he said.
Lilongwe Dairy (2001) Limited marketing manager Gabriel Phiri, whose company is one of the exhibitors, said despite the low patronage, they still hope for improved numbers in the remaining days.
Another exhibitor, Zheng Shao Lin, founder of Decho Electronics, said they hope to get more support from Malawi for their electronics, kitchen and electronic appliances, this being the first time to participate in the fair.
The trade fair, which could have been held from June 20 to 30, was postponed to this month due to political uncertainty in the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
This year’s trade fair, which will run up to August 15, has attracted international firms from Bangladesh, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and 189 local exhibitors. This is a drop from last year’s 13 countries and 222 local exhibitors.