Prosper Ndlovu, business writer
APPROXIMATELY 30 Zimbabwean companies are expected to showcase their products at the Malawi solo exhibition scheduled for next week in Lilongwe.
The “solo expo” will be held from July 12 to 14 as part of strict Covid-19 prevention measures under the theme: “Promoting business partnerships,” the organizers said.
The country’s trade promotion and development agency, ZimTrade, will lead the trade delegation as part of the country’s efforts to boost economic transformation through increased export earnings.
The intervention strengthens the Second Republic’s momentum for robust economic development, which has seen a shift from traditional diplomacy to economic diplomacy, which is expected to improve foreign exchange and investment flows.
Within the framework of the National Development Strategy 1, a five-year plan launched last year, economic diplomacy is crucial to improve the country’s image, improve relations with the international community and stimulate investment.
The government is already seized with interventions aimed at strengthening engagement with other African leaders, which should improve bilateral trade relations.
“The event will enhance engagements between companies from both countries where local businesses will meet buyers of products and services, as well as suppliers of raw materials,” said ZimTrade Managing Director Mr. Allan Majuru.
“Participating companies will come from the fast moving consumer goods, agricultural inputs and tools, home and office furniture, and building and construction sectors.
“Thus, the focus will be on Zimbabwe, which improves the quality of engagements between local exporters and buyers in the markets.”
According to ZimTrade, around 30 Zimbabwean companies are expected to participate in the very first export promotion event to Lilongwe, which is coordinated in collaboration with the Malawi Investment and Trade Center and the Zimbabwe Embassy in Malawi.
While cordial political relations exist between Lilongwe and Harare, Mr Majuru said it was possible to translate this into economic gains by increasing trade and economic cooperation.
According to the Trade Map, total trade between Zimbabwe and Malawi increased from US $ 126 million in 2015 to US $ 51 million in 2019 and the trade balance was in favor of Malawi.
Zimbabwe’s top exports to Malawi in 2019 included corrugated paper and board; coal coke and semi-coke; cement; iron and steel structures; packaging containers of paper, cardboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers; raw wood; agrochemicals; seeds, corn and fish.
Zimbabwe’s imports from Malawi include dried leguminous vegetables; soybean meal and other solid residues; unmanufactured tobacco; soybeans; peanuts, corn, fibreboard, manufactured tobacco and plastic household items.
“Malawi has been a net importer for over a decade, so Zimbabwean businesses have a unique opportunity to increase the country’s supply,” said Majuru.
“Some of the opportunities were identified through market research conducted by ZimTrade in Malawi in 2019.
“The biggest opportunities were in agricultural inputs and tools, home and office furniture, building and construction, and fast moving consumer goods. “
To unlock these opportunities, Mr. Majuru advised Zimbabwean exporters to take advantage of the preferential bilateral trade agreement that was put in place in 1995.
“Exporters must register through Zimra to benefit from this preferential bilateral trade agreement, which allows duty-free trade on non-sensitive and non-exclusive products,” he said.
In October last year, President Mnangagwa met with his Malawian counterpart, President Lazarus Chikwera, where discussions focused on how the two countries can harness their natural resources to improve the lives of their citizens through production. and productivity.
This commitment allowed the two leaders and their governments to refocus their cooperation in the areas of trade, agriculture, mining and social services.