Local firms decry lack of support

Local Malawian firms decry lack of support

Post was last updated: March 22, 2023

Some local firms have decried lack of support from the domestic market, which commentators say puts import substitution in jeopardy.

In an interview on Monday, Brown Trailers Manufacturers Company director Brown Chipapi said despite offering competition to imported trailers and other steel products, most sectors are yet to embrace their products.

He said: “We manufacture high quality and durable products, but the challenge we see is that most of our potential customers are yet to adopt to buying local.

“People are used to buying imported stuff regardless of the quality of vans, trailers, hospital beds and tanks of best standards that we make.”

On her part, Joan Footwear Investments director Annie Msiska said they have been facing resistance from the market, a situation she said need a mindset change.

The lack of support from the local market is contrary to government’s efforts to promote buying local as espoused by the Buy Malawi Strategy launched seven years ago.

The strategy is envisioned to enhance competitiveness of local firms, stimulate local production, promote industrialisation and enhance import substitution.

In the short to medium term, the strategy was envisioned to reduce the import bill and assist in narrowing Malawi’s trade deficit to save foreign currency by directing it towards the procurement of more productive inputs such as equipment and machinery and vital raw materials.

Minister of Trade and Industry Simplex Chithyola Banda in an interview said other than importing products that are locally manufactured, supporting such industries would help grow the economy.

He said: “If we give people such support, we will help improve the country’s wealth and save on forex.”

In 2021, Malawi’s foreign exchange monthly requirement was revised upwards by 20 percent from $209 million to $250 million, signifying a prevailing excess demand for foreign currency amid low supply.

Import cover is the number of months that a country can seamlessly import goods and services using the accumulated international reserves.

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