Chakwera urges prioritization of private sector in Malawi-Mozambique bilateral engagement

Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has emphasized the need for Malawi and Mozambique to prioritize private sector in their bilateral engagement, stressing that the sector is the engine for social and economic growth in any country.

Chakwera has since challenged his own government and that of President Fillipe Nyusi in Mozambique to create an enabling environment for businesses to flourish.

The Malawi leader made the sentiments on Saturday when he opened the Malawi-Mozambique Business Forum in Maputo, Mozambique.

“I strongly believe that the private sector is the engine for growth and should, therefore, form an integral part of our bilateral engagement,” he said.

He said it is against this background that his government has put in place policies, the legal framework and institutions to support private sector development.

Chakwera cited the Malawi 2063 development blueprint and Malawi’s Export Strategy II (2021-2026) where the role of the private sector is expressly highlighted as being “very prominent” in the creation of wealth for the nation.

“We have carried out a number of legal, administrative and macroeconomic management reforms aimed at creating a business-friendly climate. I believe similar efforts are taking place in Mozambique, in line with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) call to member states to harmonize policy frameworks especially, pro-private sector ones. This is also good for cross border trade and investment.

“Creation of an enabling business climate is critical to the growth and development and the attraction of the much- needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). We note, with appreciation, recent Mozambique’s high FDI inflow statistics. According to World Bank data, net Foreign Direct Investment inflows into Mozambique increased from 11.3 percent of GDP in 2018 to 22.7 percent in 2020. The increased inflows of foreign direct investment at the time when the global economy is reeling from the impact of COVID-19 induced lockdowns cannot be taken for granted. Growing investment rates are critical for building capacity for economic growth. Investments herald increased outputs. It is, therefore, important that the two countries should strengthen economic ties in form of investment and trade for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries,” said Chakwera.

He disclosed that Malawi spends on average $300 million annually to import and export goods and much of this trade is handled through the ports of Beira and Nacala.

Chakwera said he was pleased to note the modern systems and facilities installed at the Nacala Port that will help to reduce time and cost of doing business not only for Malawian and Mozambican private sector players but also the entire private sector in the region.

According to the Malawi’s Head of State, this augurs well with the aspirations of SADC to which both Malawi and Mozambique are key members.

SADC seeks to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient, productive systems, deeper co-operation and integration, good governance, and durable peace and security.

“It is pleasing to note that Malawi and Mozambique, together we are working towards this aspiration. As a way of assisting the private sector, it is important that the procedures and processes, terms and conditions, of accessing and using port facilities whether it is at Nacala or any other Port, should be facilitatory rather than hindering private sector growth. This Business Forum today exemplifies the cordial relations that exist between Malawi and Mozambique.

“There are calls that African countries should increase IntraAfrican trade as facilitated by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Currently, the bilateral trade between Malawi and Mozambique is relatively low despite close proximity of major commercial and industrial hubs of the two countries. Between 2017 and 2020, Malawi’s exports to Mozambique accounted for 2 percent of Malawi’s total exports while Mozambique’s exports to Malawi represented 1 percent of Mozambique’s exports during the same period. In my view, there is scope for increased trade between our countries. One way to grow trade is to forge linkages of the private sectors of the two countries,” narrated Chakwera.

He expressed optimism that the business forum will be beneficial in many aspects, from creating trade deals and forging lasting business linkages.

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