Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Henry Mussa has described the first joint Trade and Investment Forum between Malawi and Tanzania held recently in Tanzania as a landmark event that provided a platform to explore ways of enhancing relations on trade and investment between the two countries.
Mussa disclosed this on Friday in Lilongwe when he briefed journalists on the outcomes of the meeting that include sealed deals in trade, tourism, rail transport and energy, among other important sectors. The meeting was held at the Royal Tughimbe Conference Center in Mbeya from 26 to 27 July.
According to Mussa, the business forum proposition was conceived during the Fourth Session of the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation (JPCC) between the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Malawi which was held in Lilongwe from 3rd to 5th February 2017.
“Being neighbours alone is not enough, I urge all small and medium enterprises to remain competitive if they are to tap the most of the existing trade opportunities,” Mussa said.
He said Tanzanian industries can look up to Malawi as a source of raw materials, while Malawian companies can enjoy relatively cheaper products from Tanzania.
Mussa further added that Malawi has been losing out for not utilizing its proximity to Tanzania. “We need to do a lot in trade and investment to improve people’s lives through trade and investment forums,” Mussa added.
The forum was meant to explore opportunities and look at the how impediments to trade and investments could be dealt with.
Taking his turn, President of the Chamber of Mines and Energy Dean Lungu said the business forum was a success, giving Malawian investors a lot of business opportunities to explore in Tanzania.
Lungu cited non-tariff barriers that traders face when doing cross border trade especially small and medium enterprises as a major barrier.
“This first initiative for the trade and investment Forum in Mbeya was timely intervention, as the two nations have been trading with each other for quite a long time,” said Lungu.
He added that Tanzania will also benefit from Malawi as it is an agro-based country that produces some commodities that Tanzania does not.
The investment forum follows a Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation between Malawi and Tanzania which was held in Lilongwe in February last year.
A delegation of over 80 participants from Malawi, comprising Small and Medium Enterprise owners, government officials and business captains, attended the meeting.