In the wake of loosening trade arrangements and other emerging trade instruments at international level, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says this year’s Malawi International Trade Fair (Mitf) will focus on productivity to help narrow the country’s negative trade balance.
Malawi’s trade balance has in recent years continued to worsen with latest figures by both local and international statistical bodies showing trade deficits.
According to National Statistical Office (NSO) figures, Malawi’s trade deficit as at September last year stood at K52 billion up from K31.5 billion during the same period in the previous year.
The figures indicate that imports soared to K116.8 billion up from K101.5 billion during the same period last year while exports slowed to K64.8 billion from K70 billion the same period last year.
Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday in Blantyre ahead of the 29th Mitf, MCCCI chief operating officer Chimwemwe Luhanga said this year’s fair is meant to highlight the role that productivity at both the form and sector level plays in promoting competitiveness of Malawi exports.
Luhanga said the fair, themed Productivity: A Source of Export Competitiveness, raises the need to enhance productivity of firms and bring about action for Malawi to become a competitive exporter.
“We feel it is important as businesses to reflect on the theme of enhancing productivity so that we are competitive on the market. We believe that if the industry is to survive then it has to be competitive as one way to achieve this is to improve
“Again, this is also coming against the background of the developments in the economic blocs of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa [Comesa] and Southern Africa Development Community [Sadc] which have now formed the TFTA [Tripartite Free Trade Area] that enables free flow of goods,” he said.
Commenting on the widening trade deficit, National Working Group on Trade Policy chairperson, Fredrick Changaya, earlier told Business News that it is time Malawi used policy instruments to encourage export of products.
This year’s fair, according to Luhanga, has attracted over 165 companies so far that will occupy 210 stands.
Out of these companies, 15 are from six countries, namely Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, India and Tanzania.
Part of this year’s activities will be business-to-business match-making meetings, business workshops meant to showcase goods and services to buyers, business days for business executives to come and discuss with exhibitors and school days specially designed for school children to promote their careers.
Mitf is an annual event established in 1987 to provide a platform for local and international participants to showcase their exhibitions and network with patrons and other participants.
This year’s fair, slated for May 24 to June 3, will be held at the usual Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre. n