Ministry of Trade has revoked all import and export licences following the operationalisation of the Control of Goods Act.
Speaking to journalists in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe said this means that all traders requiring import and export permits will have to reapply for new licences.
He said all traders intending to acquire new permits should do so before August 7, a period in which traders will have to clear their goods currently in the import or export process under the old Act.
“The main departure of the new Act from the old one is the introduction of transparency and predictability mechanisms,” said Gwengwe.
He challenged local manufacturers to produce more for import substitution, saying the new law will protect local production and markets to ensure that only those products in deficit are authorised to be imported.
The minister said the law also augurs well with the Buy Malawi Strategy, which promotes consumption of locally-produced products.
There have been growing concerns about the country’s goods, especially legumes, being exported dubiously, thereby denying the country the much needed foreign exchange.
The ministry estimates that about K30 billion is lost annually through illicit trade from oilseed commodities.
Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi chairperson Grace Mijiga-Mhango welcomed the Act and called on traders to have a coordinated system to improve exports.
“In the absence of the law, we have seen rampant informal export trade of local products largely by foreign traders which is to our disadvantage because we follow formal procedures and channels,” she said.
The Control of Goods Act came into effect following its publishing in the government Gazette on July 16.
The law regulates importation and exportation of goods by restricting, banning or allowing exports and imports under licence.
For agriculture-based commodities, a trader is required to obtain an authorisation letter from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security before applying for a licence from the Ministry of Trade.
This means that any trader who imports or exports licensable goods without requisite licence commits an offence punishable by law.
Some of the goods requiring import licences under the new Act include second-hand clothes, wild animals and associated products, meat, live poultry and associated products, fish, eggs, fresh milk, maize, fruits, cane sugar, bottled water, cement and salt among others.
Importation of second hand import of underwears and bras has been banned.
Some products requiring export permit include implements of war, petroleum products, scrap metals, gemstones, hides and skins, rice, raw round hardwood timbers, soya beans, cotton lint and seed and oil seeds, among others.
The Act was passed in Parliament in May 2018 and stakeholders have been pushing for its operationalisation to ensure elimination of market distortions and create predictability.
The Act came into effect on July 24 2020.