Chinese Ambassador Pan Hejun has asked Chinese entrepreneurs operating business in rural areas in Malawi to â€œimmediatelyâ€ relocate to designated areas to respect principles guiding the development of China-Malawi relations.
Panâ€™s plea comes barely days after the Malawi Government issued a directive to all foreign traders doing business in rural areas across the country to relocate to urban centres as a way of protecting local small and medium-scale businesses.
â€œWe are asking our citizens to leave the villages and go back to the designated areas such as Lilongwe, Zomba, Blantyre and Mzuzu,â€ said the ambassador in an interview in Lilongwe on Monday.
Pan said China was pleased to note that its nationals operating their businesses in the Northern Region have taken heed of the embassyâ€™s instruction by relocating to urban centres.
He said: â€œIn some areas, there are still some of our citizens who are still operating shops in the villages, but we are very short of time and everybody should leave the villages and operate businesses in designated cities.â€
In a separate interview on Monday, Trade and Industry Minister John Bande said government would like to see serious investors in the country unlike foreign traders who are snatching small-scale businesses suitable for native Malawians.
He said foreigners will no longer be getting business licences through district commissioners (DCs), but rather through his ministry.
Bande said the directive is in line with the new Business Act that allows foreign investors a minimum of $50 000 investment.
An influx of foreign traders operating small-scale businesses in Malawi has been one major bone of contention between locals and foreigners which in recent times has seen the former chasing the latter out of some trading centres, notably Mponela in Dowa.