Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe has said Malawi and Zimbabwe reviewing their 1995 bilateral trade agreement to align with modern trade trends.
The minister said on Monday in Lilongwe during the opening of a three-day ZimTrade Solo Exhibition which attracted 20 companies dealing in agro-processing and manufacturing of irrigation equipment, home and office furniture and mining equipment.
Said Gwengwe: “Malawi and Zimbabwe signed a bilateral trade agreement in 1995 which allows duty-free imports on a reciprocal basis, provided the goods meet 25 percent minimum domestic content provisions and conform to each other’s standards.
“We are now reviewing the agreement to conform to modern trade trends. Teams from both sides are working on the review and it is my plea that the review process is hastened to facilitate mutual and smooth trade.”
To increase trade between the two countries, he said government has in the 2021/22 National Budget increased the Comesa Simplified Trade Regime threshold from $2 000 (K1.6 million)to $3 000 (K2.5 million) to bolster cross-border trade with Zimbabwe as well as Zambia.
Zimbabwean High Commissioner Nancy Saungweme hoped for improved trade through the solo exhibition and the review of the bilateral agreement.
She said: “Things have changed since 1995. The agreement is outdated which is why we should review it.
“We cannot continue with trade practices of the past when things have changed globally and between Zimbabwe and Malawi.”
During the ceremony, ZimTrade and the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) signed a memorandum of understanding to foster trade between the two countries through collaboration, trade promotion and development and capacity building.
According to International Trade Council (ITC Trade Map) figures, exports from Malawi to Zimbabwe in 2020 were pegged at $35.3 million (K29 billion) with dried leguminous vegetables, soya-bean oil cake and other solid residues, unmanufactured tobacco, soya beans, groundnuts, maize, fibreboard, manufactured tobacco and plastic household articles topping the list.
Correspondingly, imports from Zimbabwe to Malawi in 2020 were worth $ 31.2 million (K26 billion) with corrugated paper and paperboard, iron and steel structures, packing containers, rough wood, agrochemicals and seeds topping the list.
The exhibition is being held under the theme Kulimbikitsa Ubale Pamalonda (Fostering Trade Partnerships).