Malawi’s exports to the east African market are expected to be enhanced during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic period, following Britain’s offer to support the Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) project with $50 million.
TMEA was established as a non-profit making institution for aid for trade delivery in East Africa.
In one of its recent proposals for aid, the organisation highlighted the need to help the Malawi government focus on diversifying exports and reducing vulnerability of rain-fed agriculture.
It expressed abilities to support these efforts by reducing costs and time of trade and ensuring that Malawian products are competitive on international markets.
The UK, through the Department for International Development (DFID), has since shown strong interest in funding the five year programme in full, as part of its planned Malawi Trade and Investment Programme (M-TIP).
This came out when Acting UK High Commissioner to Malawi, Dave Beer, visited the new Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, last week.
Beer indicated that TMEA would help in the implementation of Covid-19 safe trade emergency plan aimed at facilitating smooth trade flows across borders and corridors by enhancing safety measures for frontline officers at the borders.
“The aim is to improve Malawi’s trade infrastructure, enhance the trade environment, and boost business competitiveness,” Beer said.
In an interview, Gwengwe said the project will enhance corridor connectivity and help Malawi boost its trade potential.
“The project will focus on two dominant themes; first improving trade along the key trade corridors for Malawi.
“Secondly, it will support priority export value chains. This will involve focused work on standards, trade policy, simplification and automation of trade-related regulatory processes, creation or improvement of warehousing and cold chain infrastructure for better first and last mile connectivity; and capacity building of logistics industry and exporters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gwengwe said following the UK’s break away from the European Union (EU), discussions are on course over trade relationship between Malawi and the UK as a standalone country.
“We were in the EU-ACP trade arrangement which was like a trade free zone but after Brexit, we are discussing to safeguard that free trade arrangement with the UK so the deliberations are positive that the free flow of trade between Malawi and UK will not be affected,” Gwengwe said.