A recent World Bank (WB) report has rated Malawi highly on limiting barriers to trade, outperforming the African average.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has since attributed the good performance to the reforms being undertaken in the ministry.
The report, Breaking Down Barriers; Unlocking Africa’s Potential through Vigorous Competition Policy released last week indicated that in 2015-16, Malawi registered the lowest perceived barriers to trade in the Sub-Saharan region replacing South Africa which had occupied the same position in 2014-15.
Morocco is the only North African country that outperformed the African average on limiting barriers to trade.
The report also says that countries in the Sub-Saharan and North African countries rank fairly low, on average, on indicators of innovation, technology adoption, and competitiveness.
The report however notes that lack of regional harmonisation in product registration, labeling and inspection; even for identical products in similar agro-climatic condition has affected the importation of fertilizer into the country.
“In Malawi and Uganda, entry of fertilisers that are used routinely in neighboring countries is hindered because the product either does not meet national specifications or must undergo a mandatory three years of testing before approval (Uganda). Work is being done at the regional level, but progress has been slow,” reads the report in part.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said that the ministry is not surprised with the good performance following a number of reforms that the ministry has been undertaking.
Said Nkombezi, “This is not a surprise to us because as a ministry, we have done a lot in terms of reforms. Our objective is to ensure that Malawi has a good operating environment for the private sector.
“To this end, we have implemented a number of initiatives aimed at promoting trade including the launch of Malawi Trade Portal, collateral registry, online business registry among others, and we are not stopping. We want to even improve on the World Bank Doing Business ranking.”
Nkombezi said that by getting such high rating, chances of attracting foreign investments will be high a move which would also necessitate job creation.
Nkombezi however said that although fertiliser importation remains a sensitive issue, government will ensure that trade across the border is enhanced. n