By Kondwani Magombo, MANA
The trading patterns amongst Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states is currently very low — at around 20%, which is very low as compared to other regions such as the European Union (EU) where figures go to up to 60%.
This was said by SADC Director for Industrial Development & Trade, Dr. Khutula Sibanda at a press briefing ahead of the week-long SADC Industrialization and Exhibition Week that started today, Monday in Lilongwe.
Sibanda said the trading figures for other regions such as the EU are high “because they trade more amongst themselves than the SADC member states”.
He added that the regional body needs to appreciate the rationale behind the SADC Industrialization Strategy to enhance value addition to improve the regions manufactured goods.
He also said the Strategy is also aimed at improving the regions manufactured inputs and trading amongst the member states as indicated by SADC trading figures.
The industrialization week would help stakeholders’ share common understanding as SADC family and Sibanda called upon the media to disseminate the proceedings to the “farthest district of Malawi and to the farthest districts of the rest of the member states”.
“As a region, we expect that where those policies are not put in place they should be put in place and we expect that our policy makers ensure that innovative funding mechanisms are put in place to finance the various components of the strategy, in particular, those big pillars like infrastructure,” Sibanda said.
In his remarks, Minister of Industry, Roy Kachale said the Exhibition Week will accord the country an opportunity to build strong trading partners base, among other things, saying it would enhance value addition for commodities in the region as envisioned by SADC Council of Heads of State in Harare in 2015.
“The general expectations are that we are going to build networks with the region and within ourselves so that we increase our trading partner’s base,” Kachale said.
“We hope to forge networks with other countries on trading of intermediary goods, for example: if sugar is our end product but in other countries it is taken as a raw material, we need to start building those capacities instead of us exporting intermediary goods and importing finished goods.”
The Minister added that other than attaining the growth in manufacturing value added products and the trading of intermediate goods, Malawi would like to see several indicators increase, including growth in GDP.