Ministry of Industry and Trade has said the Malawi Trade Portal—a web-based information facility—to roll out in March, will provide all import, export and transit requirements.
The portal aims to enhance transparency and predictability to importers and exporters on all procedures and regulations, Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said in an interview last week.
He said rolling out the trade portal is one of the steps towards developing the national single window (NSW) programme—a one-stop electronic platform to exchange information between traders and government agencies.
Said Nkombezi: “We are within the time frame of the project and by next month, the facility will be up and running. Our contractors are finalising the project and we hope to meet the deadline.”
The establishment of the trade portal, according to records, requires a functional website linked to all trade-related institutions with regular update of all trade intelligence information, including trade agreements, available markets and market requirements at product level, procedures and processes for export and acquiring trade-related certificates or documents.
Malawi has over the years not been performing well on the World Bank Doing Business Index and the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) with its ranking always dismal.
In 2015, for example, GCI ranked Malawi on position 135 out of 145 economies, which experts said is not a good score to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
Government has nevertheless scaled-up efforts to improve the situation by implementing a number of projects aimed at enhancing trade besides the trade portal.
Among others, government is implementing NSW programme to reduce trade transaction costs.
Early last year, government also rolled out an online registration of businesses, contained in Business Registration Act as part of business reforms, raising hopes that the cost of doing business, time taken to get approvals and the overall doing business index would improve.
Two weeks ago, government also launched the collateral registry to enable Malawians use movable assets to acquire a loan from a commercial bank. Such assets include motor vehicles, livestock, crops and maize mill.
The trade portal also complements World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on trade facilitation of which Malawi is a signatory and it is obligatory for governments to enhance transparency and the flow of information to the business community. n