The Minister of Trade and Industry has made public information pertaining to agricultural commodity exports to South Sudan and India, which Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) demanded on 14 April 2022.
CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa also sought information on the proceeds from the exports, fearing that Malawians are not benefitting from the deals.
However, in his letter to Namiwa, dated April 25 April 2022, the Minister of Trade and Industry Mark Katsonga Phiri clarifies that the Government of Malawi did not sign any contract with South Sudan and India as cited in CDEDI’s letter of demand.
Katsonga Phiri says the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, facilitated the discussions and signing of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with each respective country.
“You may be aware that government is implementing the National Export Strategy Il that seeks to diversify exports. The signed MOUS are, therefore, part of Government initiative in negotiating for favourable market access for Malawi’s exports to the international markets. Considering that that business is conducted, by the private sector, conclusion and operationalisation of the MoUs also put at centre the engagement of the private sector throughout the process,” reads part of the letter.
Below is “some of the relevant information pertaining to each of the respective MOU as follows:
a. MOU with the Government of India
i. The Memorundum between the Government of the Republic of Malawi and the Government of the Republic of India on Cooperation in the Field of Trade of Tur (Arhar Dar or Pigeon Peas) was signed on 16th June, 2021 in Lilongwe, Malawi;
ii. The MOU provides a window for exportation of 50,000 Metric Tonnes of pigeon peas, through private trade, to India for five years i.e. from 2021-2022 to 2025 to 2026 (April to March). Copy of the MOU is attached for your ease Of reference;
iii. To ensure inclusive participation of both big exporters and Small and Medium Enterprises the Ministry informed the business community about the procedures and conditions that exporters should meet in order to utitise the window. Copy of the Press Release. is attached for your information; and
iv. The tracking of export proceeds is a collaborative exercise with the Reserve Bank of Malawi and therefore, the Ministry requests for ample time to provide relevant update on the matter. However, the list of companies that utilised the MOU is attached, for your information.
b. MOU with the Government of South Sudan
The Memorundum on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Malawi and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan was signed on 10th June, 2021 in Juba, South Sudan. Copy of the MOU is attached for ease of reference;
Following the signing of MOU, Government and Business delegation from South Sudan visited Malawi from 2nd to 6th July, 2021 and from 26th January to 1st February, 2022. The visits aimed at conducting due diligence of potential companies that were interested to export their products to South Sudan as well as processing processes of Malawi’s agricultural commodities that could be immediately imported by South Sudan. The delegation visited some of the production centres including NASFAM milling factory, Anfracom milling factory, Sunseed Factory, Blessings Factory, Ljwonde ADMARC Rice Milling, Malawi Bureau of Standards Laboratory and also signed an MOU on standards be then the Malawi Bureau of Standards and South Sudan National Bureau of Standards on 28th January, 2022.
Prior to the MOU on Standards, Malawi launched a trial-run of 70 trucks of rice and maize flour to Juba facilitated by Ideat Group Company and NASFAM Ltd which met a number of logistical challenges including recognition of standards. The signing of the MOU on standards therefore, would helped out iron out logistical challenges for subsequent of Malawi’s products by various exporters in the upcoming marketing season of the agricultural products to South Sudan;
During both visits, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre organised Business Networking Session for the private sector where the South Sudan officials presented trade and investment opportunities in South Sudan and any information the Malawi private sector may need from South Sudan relating to trade and investment; and
v. A Press Release on the outcomes of the Republic of South Sudan Delegation visit to Malawi from 26th January to 1st February, 2022 was released to the Business Community and the General Public. The Press Release among other issues, encouraged aggressiveness for both Malawi and South Sudan private sector to take advantage of the MOU. Copy of the Press Release posted on the Ministry Facebook page on 3rd February, 2022, is attached herewith.
Katsonga Phiri has emphasized that “is no secrecy about the two signed MoUs considering that there has been private sector engagement throughout the process and that Public Notices were issued through various media outlets for the information of the Business Community and the General Public to take advantage of the market opportunities available.”
However, he commends CDEDI for seeking information on implementation of the MoUs.
“The ministry will also be grateful for your assistance in disseminating the information to the general public and particularly in encouraging Malawi’s private sector proactive response to every opportunity that arises from the international market arena. My ministry is open for any information or clarifications you may wish regarding implementation of any trade facilitation programmes spearheaded by the ministry,” thus Katsonga Phiri concludes his response letter to CDEDI.
Namiwa said he was impressed with the response from the minister. He said is still looking forward to seeing the ministry address their second demand, which borders on how the government is utilizing proceeds from such deals.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :