Malawi to ‘flush out’ illegal Chinese traders

Immigration Department will be expected to inspect papers of Chinese national doing business in the districts as part of a campaign ‘flush out’ those living in the country illegally, government has directed.

The influx of Chinese nationals who are snatching business opportunities from Malawians even in villages with their cheap imports is causing problems; a development which Malawi government noted has “brought discord and tension between businesspeople of the two countries.”

But according to minutes of the meeting of meeting held at Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Security headquarters in the capital, Lilongwe on August 9 2011, seen by Nyasa Times and also highlighted in Malawi’s flagship daily, The Nation, government has put in place new measures to give teeth to Immigration Department to deport Chinese traders accused of operating illegally in the country.

Elvis Thodi, Chief Immigration Officer: Crackdown on illegal Chinese nationals

“When the governments of Malawi and China formally established diplomatic  relations on 28th December 2007, there was an understanding that nationals of  the two countries would be allowed to carry out business activities in  designated cities,” reads the minutes of the meeting which was chaired by Secretary for Internal Affairs and Public Security  Sam Madula.

“In the case of Malawi, Chinese nationals were expected to operate their business entities in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba and in the districts of Kasungu and Luchenza. However, it had now transpired that the Chinese were spreading their businesses throughout Malawi willy-nilly…without due regard to the agreed upon procedures and protocols between the two governments.”

Malawi blames laxity in enforcing trade laws leading to foreigners peddling in the informal sector.

Government, meanwhile, has advised all district councils to stop issuing business licences to foreign nationals and that they should document and review all business licences issued to foreign nationals and revoke those not meeting requisite qualifications

The Department of Immigration will also embark on reviewing the type of visas issued to foreign nationals and flush out those who are living illegally in Malawi, according to a memo dated August 18 2011 from Local Government Ministry

Chinese Embassy press officer Yang Chao on Thursday told The Nation that Chinese nationals are always encouraged to obey laws in countries where they stay.

“We always request Chinese companies and nationals in Malawi to obey local laws and regulations, and operate within the framework of Malawian laws, and live in harmony with Malawian people,” Chao said, according to the daily.

One of Africa’s poorest countries, Malawi has a bustling business in informal trade that helps support some of the millions living in poverty.

Malawi’s failure to attract investment is largely blamed on poor infrastructure, high transport costs, and a shortage of skilled manpower and lack of full implementation of investment incentives for expatriates.

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