Ministry of Trade says the newly-signed TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Malawi Country Program is expected to increase Malawi’s trade volume, reduce trade costs while also inducing the country’s competitiveness on the global market.
The 40 million pound (about K40 billion) multi-year program, whose technical assistant agreement was signed in August last year is supported by the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The initial funding is expected to cover the period of up to March 2026.
Speaking during the second meeting of the national oversight committee (Noc) of the TMEA Malawi country program in Lilongwe last weekend, Secretary for Trade Christina Zakeyo the ministry was pleased to note that a number of activities under the program have picked up.
Some of the activities, according to Zakeyo, include the support to ICT for Trade projects, support towards the implementation of the One Stop Border Posts (OSBP);the baseline survey for Malawi’s major borders and corridors; the feasibility of establishing dry ports and logistics facilities; and also the timely support towards Malawi’s access to the new UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
Said Zakeyo: “In this vein, as we head into the future, I would call upon the implementation team not to shy away from high impact hardware interventions in as far as the trade facilitation agenda is concerned. Ensure balance between the software interventions and the relevant hardware without losing the Programme’s thematic focus for high value exports.”
According to a project document which we have seen, as a multiplier effect, the project also intends to contribute to increased export growth, create new jobs and reduce poverty.
The program is taking shape at a time when the national economy continues to face fiscal challenges, beset by low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates, poor investment inflows and a slowdown in job creation.
Besides, the country is also facing persistent and expanding trade deficits which trade experts say require an urgent focus on export growth policies and initiatives.
Malawi is also faces high costs of trade, estimated by the Ministry of Transport to account for 56 percent of the cost of imports and exports.
TMEA program country director for Malawi Jovin Mwemwezi said the Project is expected to among other things, support corridor development, one stop border post development, ICT for trade, standards as well as trade policy, export growth and logistics.
Mwemwezi said in the first year of operations (Aug 2020 – March 2021), the program focused on Safe Trade Emergency Plan for Malawi
(STEPM) that supported the government of Malawi in responding to the effects of Covid-19, with focus on smooth cross-border
trading to keep trading undisrupted and ensuring the safety of frontline border officials.
“We believe a multi-year TMEA Malawi country program can remove persistent barriers and significantly improve trade outcomes,” he said.
Mwemwezi also explained that the program is poised to implement a mix of systemic interventions by improving infrastructure, reducing bureaucracy in trade, and supporting the private sector to capitalise on quality, cost-effective trade services.