MALAWI will lobby for the removal of the illegal Western sanctions regime that is affecting ordinary people, the nation's President Dr Joyce Banda has said.
Officially opening the 54th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair here yesterday, Dr Banda said her country would "blow the trumpet".
"My visit to Zimbabwe has provided me with a rare opportunity to see what is emerging in Zimbabwe.
"It gives hope to see that the destiny of Zimbabwe remains in the hands of Zimbabweans.
"We will march with you and the rest of us shall blow the trumpet: 'lift sanctions, they are hurting the ordinary people'," she said.
Zimbabwe has been under an illegal sanctions regime since the turn of the millennium as punishment for embarking on land reforms.
Dr Banda bemoaned the low level of trade between Zimbabwe and Malawi.
"Trade flows between Zimbabwe and Malawi continue to be very low. For instance, total trade between the two countries has averaged US$80 million over the past three years, which is a small percentage of the combined trade flow of the two countries.
"This trade pattern shows that there is a need for our countries to work diligently in order to enhance trade flows between ourselves."
Dr Banda said the two countries recently signed a bilateral trade agreement and discussed trade and economic issues within the framework of the Joint Permanent Commission and Co-operation.
She urged Zimbabwe and Malawi to ensure that the trade agreement works to the advantage of entrepreneurs from both countries.
"I have been informed that there are several outstanding issues which need to be resolved between the two sides and I want to urge our technocrats to fast-track the resolution of the issues."
Dr Banda challenged businesses to ensure that the recently negotiated Simplified Trade Regime, negotiated by the two countries under the auspices of Comesa to facilitate cross border trade for small and medium enterprises, worked to their benefit.
Dr Banda said the role of Government was to create an enabling environment to facilitate trade and investment.
She said Africa was set to be the world's next economic giant.
"In 2010, McKinsey, a renowned management consultant firm described African countries as 'lions on the move.' McKinsey's view of Africa was validated by the World Bank when they commented that Africa could be on the verge of economic take-off much like China and India were 20 years ago," she said.
Dr Banda said Africa had made strides in many areas important for foreign direct investment.
"Trade liberalisation, the strengthening of the rule of law, political stability, improvements in legal and other instruments as well as the telecommunications and transport infrastructures are some of the key positive changes aiding Africa's business climate," said Dr Banda.
She said experts predicted that the continent's combined consumer spending would grow to about US$1,4 trillion in 2020.
Dr Banda said the key driver to Africa's economic success was its natural wealth, as the continent prided itself in contributing about 30 percent of world's mineral reserves, including about 40 percent of the world's gold.
"The exciting news is that the natural resource wealth explains just a part of the story," she said.
"What I have observed is that Africa's economy is becoming diversified in the following key sectors, financial services, health and pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, energy, construction, information and communication technology."
Dr Banda said the returns on investment in Africa were among the highest in the world as evidenced by the increase in Foreign Direct Investment from US$10 billion in 2000 to almost US$60 billion in 2009.
The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe toured various stands at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair yesterday in the company of Dr Banda's husband Mr Richard Banda.
They visited the First Family-run Alpha Omega Dairy, Turnall Fibre Holdings Limited, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, National University of Science and Technology and Zimbabwe Republic Police's Kuyedza Women's Club stands.