Malawi government has pledged to address challenges in the textile and garments industry to ensure that they derive maximum benefits from the extended Third Country Fabric (TCF) provision under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
Minister of Trade John Bande said this when he toured some players in the industry in Blantyre on Wednesday.
The minister visited Nu-Line Textiles, Win Win Garments and Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha) Weaving Factory.
“I had a bilateral meeting with my counterpart in South Africa and he assured me that we will sit down in September to iron out problems we may have as far as trade is concerned.
“I had a similar meeting with Mozambican Trade Minister and we agreed to end all problems we face in trade. As a country, we need to move fast to use the Agoa TCF initiative before its expiry in 2015,” said Bande.
Win Win Garments factory manager Khin Swe Myint expressed happiness with Agoa TCF, but asked government to help solve some of the problems such as delays in shipping and high transport costs.
Between 2004 and 2008, Win Win used to ship 12 containers per month, but the number has gone down to three containers.
“We get our raw materials from China, Taipei to the Durban Port. From there to Malawi, it takes seven days and sometimes the South African customs detain our containers. That way, our import containers are delayed. This also delays our exports.
“At Nyamapanda and Beit Bridge, we are often told that the computer system is down. As we delay, we miss our vessels and our buyers are not happy. If we do not deliver the goods in time, they cancel the orders,” she said.