7 September 2012

Southern Africa: Malawi, South Africa to Beef Up Trade

Pretoria — South Africa and Malawi have agreed on improving and strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries.

This would be done by facilitating private sector interaction with a view not only to increase current trade relations, but also to encourage more investments, Deputy Minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim, told reporters on Friday.

He was speaking at the conclusion of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) meeting in Pretoria between South Africa and Malawi. Ebrahim co-chaired the meeting with Ephraim Mganda Chiume Chiume, Malawi's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"We have noted with great satisfaction the noticeable progress that has been achieved in strengthening the political and economic cooperation between our countries. Of significance is the increasing number of legal instruments that are being negotiated to facilitate our partnership.

"In this regard, we agreed to speed up the negotiations so that these instruments could be signed during 2013," Ebrahim said. Since the first Agreement was signed in May 2007, there had been greater bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

There was a need for two countries to meet regularly in order to maintain momentum in the implementation of decisions agreed upon in the JCC meeting.

Officials from the two foreign ministries will meet every six months to check progress on a number of trade agreements between Pretoria and Lilongwe.

South Africa and Malawi enjoy sound relations with trade relations showing that Malawi was South Africa's ninth largest export destination in Africa and ranked 10th with regard to South Africa's imports from the continent.

Earlier this year, South Africa agreed to extend a loan of US$35-million to the government of Malawi to help with the availability of fuel in that country, following a meeting between President Jacob Zuma and Malawian President Joyce Banda. The loan will be made in three instalments, with the first, of $10-million, having been paid on 24 April.

According to the World Bank, since 2005, Malawi had enjoyed uninterrupted solid growth for five years in a row averaging about seven percent, backed by sound economic policies and a supportive donor environment. In the last two years, Malawi's economic environment has continued to weaken. Growth has been slowing down from a peak of 9.7 percent in 2008 to an estimated 5 percent in 2011.

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