BY CHIMWEMWE MANGAZI IN MBEYA, TANZANIA:
The Tanzania and Malawi Investment Forum started Thursday in Mbeya, Tanzania, with officials expressing optimism for enhanced formal business and social relationships between Lilongwe and Dar es Salaam.
The joint investment forum, which has attracted investors and businesspersons from the two neighbouring countries, is also earmarked to help cultivate the trade and investment potential that is there between them.
The investment forum follows a Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation between Malawi and Tanzania which was held in Lilongwe in February last year.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa, urged small and medium enterprises to remain competitive if they are to tap the most of the existing trade opportunities.
He said Malawi has been losing out for not utilising its proximity to Tanzania.
“The Tanzanian industries can look up to Malawi as a source of raw materials, while Malawian companies can enjoy relatively cheaper products from Tanzania,” Mussa said.
Figures he gave show that the Malawi-Tanzania trade deficit stood at $27 million and $20 million in 2015 and 2016, respectively, but in favour of Tanzania.
Tanzania Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who graced the occasion, said that the two countries should evaluate and remove all barriers to trade that have frustrated high level of trading between them.
“We have been trading but not enough. Malawi has been importing [from Tanzania] various products including cement, while Tanzania has been importing maize seed, food products and others but this is not enough.
“Together we need to address any non tariff barriers to realise the trading potential between our countries that can significantly transform our economies,” Hassan said.
The Malawi delegation to the forum includes private sector members and government officials.
Today’s top business story: Top Commercial Banks In Malawi