Ministry of Trade has urged people to consume and use locally made products, saying this is the only way to create decent and sufficient rural and urban jobs to boost the economy.
Buy Malawi Strategy desk officer Ezron Chirambo said this on Friday in Blantyre at a Buy Malawi Strategy mini fair.
He said the fair was aimed at celebrating locally produced goods and services.
Said Chirambo: “Government is striving to make local products known and consumed by Malawians and then taken out of the country. We want to ensure that companies that are producing local products are operating in a conducive environment so that they can thrive.
“Malawians have to be mindful that the only way for our country to prosper and for companies to create more jobs is by buying from local companies.”
Sunseed Malawi sales and marketing assistant Tobias Kapesa, whose company was among the exhibitors, said despite an overwhelming response from the local market, local producers continue to face challenges to sell their products.
He said: “Our products have gained the trust of Malawians, but government itself is countering the efforts we have made.
“Recently, the government introduced a 16.5 percent value added tax on cooking oil, a development which has necessitated a rise in cooking oil prices, discouraging people from buying our products.”
Another exhibitor, Moses Chikuse, who is marketing manager for Hirwa, urged government to ensure that their products are sold in local supermarkets.
The exhibitor, whose firm manufactures charcoal beauty soap, dish wash liquid and car shampoo, said despite government pushing for local products, some supermarkets are hesitant to sell the locally produced goods.
But in his response Chirambo said government is willing to change policies that are retrogressive to the Buy Malawi Strategy drive.
“Companies are welcome to discuss their challenges with government. The perfect operating environment for all companies sometimes cannot be there, but as government ventures into another fiscal year, companies are advised to voice out their inputs on what should be done,” he said.
Troubled by the rising trade deficit, the Malawi Government launched the Buy Malawi Strategy in 2016 to reduce imports and narrow the country’s trade deficit by promoting local production and industrialisation.
For instance, the country’s trade deficit peaked at $629.6 million (K497 billion) during the fourth quarter of 2020, following another deficit of $620.1 million (K489 billion) recorded in the previous quarter.