Malawi and Mozambique on Friday reached an agreement to address several key problems affecting bilateral trade between the two countries.
The agreement followed discussions between trade, transport, customs and security officials from the two countries which took place in Mozambique’s city of Tete.
Malawi’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Joseph Mwanamvekha, and Mozambique’s Industry and Trade Minister, Ernesto Max Tonela, led their respective delegations at the talks which were held under the spirit of the Malawi-Mozambique Bilateral Trade Agreement which was signed in December, 2005.
Some key issues discussed at the meeting included multiple and arbitrary fees levied on Malawian transporters in transit through Mozambique, low allocation of Malawi-bound goods to Malawian transporters at the port of Beira, delays in the granting of contra-marca codes to Malawian transporters who cannot pass through Mozambique without the numbers as well as banditry attacks on Malawian trucks in some location of Mozambique.
Malawi also complained about the requirement by Mozambique for drivers to carry with them original blue books for trucks being driven through Mozambique.
“Some of the trucks are on lease with banks and their blue books are kept by the banks, so it is not possible for the truck drivers to carry with them original blue books. Besides, giving a blue book to the driver is like surrendering ownership of the truck to the driver as he can even sell it with the blue book,” observed Malawi’s Secretary for Trade Cliff Chiunda during technical discussions.
But the Mozambicans were adamant on the issue, saying carrying of blue books was a legal requirement in the country as enacted through an act of Parliament and that any change can only be done through Parliament.
The delegations also discussed outstanding proposals on the establishment of one border posts between Malawi and Mozambique as well as launching of simplified trade regime to ease cross- border trading among smaller scale entrepreneurs from both countries.
After lengthy and meticulous discussions between the two delegations, agreements were reached on addressing most of the issues.
On the issue of blue books, the two delegations have agreed to further review it based on recommended practices under the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) regional framework.
Mwanamvekha said the meeting was important to Malawi because Mozambique was Malawi’s key trade partner and main transit route for its exports and imports.
“There is a lot of cross border trade between Malawi and Mozambique and a lot of Malawi’s exports and imports pass through Mozambique,” he said.
On his part, Tonela said Mozambique was committed to remove obstacles and other barriers that hinder trade and transportation of goods between Malawi and Mozambique.
“Through this meeting, we have been able to identify and discuss the problems and this will enable us remove everything that stands between smooth trade between our two countries,” he said.
Apart from the Ministry of Trade, the Malawi delegation to the discussions in Tete also included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Malawi Investment and Trade Centre, Malawi Revenue Authority, Malawi Police, National Road Safety and Traffic Services and Road Transport Operators Association among others.
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