Malawi is failing to exploit a $20 billion (about K11.4 trillion) trade opportunity offered by Canada through Canadian Market Access Initiative, it has been learnt.
Trade Facilitation of Canada (TFO Canada) project manager for Africa and Haiti, Amandine Gakima, said this to participants at the three-day Exporting to Canada Seminar in Lilongwe last Thursday.
TFO Canada is a non-government organisation funded by Canadian Government to promote sustainable economic development in Africa and parts of the world.
She said: “The market is huge because Canada is the biggest importing country. But because of limitation in production capacity and standards, Malawi is not utilising this great opportunity.”
Gakima said coffee, tea, groundnuts, macadamia and tobacco are some of the crops Malawi can export to Canada, but there are also opportunities in textile articles, rubber and woven apparel.
She said the seminar was held to brief Malawian businesspeople on what can be done to export to the Canadian market.
Ministry of Industry and Trade deputy director of trade Charity Musonzo agreed with Gakima, saying the Canadian market is huge and remains unexploited for Malawian businesspeople.
“Producers in the country do not have the capacity to produce enough to satisfy the Canadian consumers. There are also requirements that Canadian consumers want to have in terms of agro-processed products. These are the major bottlenecks we are having on the ground,” she said.
Musonzo said once the National Export Strategy (NES) is fully implemented, the country will resolve the challenges.
Richmond Msowoya, sector programme specialist at World University Services of Canada (Wusc), organisers of the seminar, said the seminar was organised to let people know what business offers can be exploited in Canada.
“With this seminar, businesspeople who participated now know what and how to export to the Canadian market. In the long-term, they will be able to export more,” he said.
Msowoya said there is a big gap between the country’s exports and what Canada wants from Malawi.
For instance, figures show that last year, Canada wanted legumes worth $5 billion (K2.8 trillion), but Malawi only supplied $185 000 (K105 million) worth of legumes.
“We hope producers will be able to fill this gap,” said Msowoya.
Malawi also has opportunities to export legumes to Europe and Asian markets but fails to meet the required quantities.
Experts say this is an area the country can exploit to earn foreign exchange. n