The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism says there is need to take a different approach in conducting international trade fairs in the county for the platforms to bring good results.
Principal trade officer in the ministry, Diamond Chikhasu told Malawi News Agency (Mana) last week that the fairs have turned into more of a marketplace than a platform for serious business discussions and relationship building.
“We made a suggestion to the organisers who are Malawi Confederation Of Chambers of Commerce and Industry [MCCCI] to change that approach and emphasize on business deliberations and deal striking among participants, bring in diversification of some sort in order for the local businesses to utilize the platform in conquering the international market,” explained Chikhasu.
On incorporating the element of value addition, Chikhasu gave an example of Admarc which is a regular participant at the fair throughout the years, brings raw rice and other farm produce for showcasing yet if the same rice was added value, it would attract more international buyers at a higher price.
However, the chamber’s director of operations, Chimwemwe Luhanga denied receiving the said suggestion from the ministry, but indicated that such proposals meant to explore ways of improving the event are welcome by the chamber.
Luhanga indicated that for this year, they have introduced other activities alongside the usual events such as Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business to Group (B2G) meetings to allow exhibitors make presentations of their products and strike business deals.
According to Luhanga, as organisers, MCCCI is satisfied with the current status as the fairs have been a success.
“Local businesses do benefit from the event, through meeting new customers, testing products, cementing relationships with existing customers and gauging their competitiveness in the sector they operate plus obtaining information from workshops and seminars which run alongside the fair,” explained Luhanga.
However, director of trade in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Christina Mateyo, feels local businesses are lagging behind in tapping from the international market due to low levels of value addition to the locally produced goods.
“For us to make the most out of our products and try and close the trade gap between Malawi and other countries, there is need to intensify value addition rather than continue exporting raw products,” said Mateyo.
This year’s trade fair, which is the 29th, is set to run from May 24 to June 3 2017 under the theme; Productivity: A Source of Export Competitiveness.
At least 250 participants are expected to patronize the fair, including those from Tanzania, India, Mozambique, Turkey, Zimbabwe and Zambia.