Special Economic Zones (SEZs)—designated areas within a country with special economic regulations—could help foreign direct investors to set up companies with minimal challenges, according to Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc).
SEZs are aimed at increasing trade, investment, job creation and effective administration and within the zones, financial policies are introduced regarding investing, taxation, trading, quotas, customs and labour regulations.
But Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said in an interview on Monday there is need for a thorough analysis before Malawi introduces SEZs because what has worked somewhere does not necessarily mean that it will work in Malawi.
He said: “We need to do a thorough analysis to see if what has worked somewhere can also work for Malawi. China is more advanced than us and Zambia and Malawi are also two different countries so we need to do our homework well.”
In China, Zambia, Botswana and Rwanda SEZs are working and have simplified the entry of investors.
Speaking in an interview in Salima last week, Mitc chief executive officer Clement Kumbemba said SEZs have transformed many countries in Africa and beyond.
He said: “China has developed because of special economic zones and if we can do the same here we can improve our economy as many investors will get favourable conditions to set up their businesses.
“For a start, we can target agriculture because it is the backbone of the country. In China, there is a horticulture economic zone specifically for horticulture and we can do the same here.”
Kumbemba said there is vast land in Malawi, citing land near Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe which can be turned into SEZs to grow vegetables and other horticulture produce for export.