Parliament has passed the Special Economic Zones alongside Investment and Export Promotion Bills.
The Special Economic Zones seeks to provide for the declaration, designation, development, promotion, operation and regulation of special economic zones (SEZs) in the country.
Whilst the latter Bill seeks to enhance the legal mandate of the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) by establishing it under a statute, so enhancing its status and mandate of facilitating and promoting investment and trade in Malawi.
In an interview, the responsible minister of trade and industry Sosten Gwengwe is a positive trend towards the country achieving aspirations under the national vision, Malawi 2063.
“So the first one really was just trying to reestablish the MITC by statute because the MITC that we have was a is that by just being incorporated under Companies Act, but today we have incorporated MITC by statute with all the legal mandates that it needs to really act as a one stop shop office for all the investors.
“And the SEZs it’s an extension of the investment and export promotion bill because this time around we would want the Minister of Trade to have powers so that he can designate some areas whether it’s industrial parks, whether they are dry boats, whether they are tourism hubs as export process or as Export Processing Zones, but also SEZs,” Gwengwe said.
The Malawi 2063, a long-term national vision of the country, aspires for Malawi to be an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant industrialised upper middle-income country by 2063. Malawi 2063 has three pillars, namely: Agricultural Productivity and Commercialisation; Industrialisation; and Urbanisation.
Gwengwe added that the adoption of the two Bills is a significant milestone towards attracting foreign direct investment and focus on the private sector.
“We believe that this was the remaining piece in our jigsaw to be able to attract foreign direct investment, because we would as you come in, find a place where land has been allocated a factory shell has been constructed utilities have been connected, and they are ready to go, and this is what has been lacking in in our quest to increase foreign direct investment and also boosts exports,” he said.
In 2012 government implemented reforms that resulted in the merger of the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency and Malawi Export Promotion Council to create the MITC.
The merging of the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency and Malawi Export Promotion Council led to the incorporation of the Centre as a company under the Companies Act (Cap 46:03). This merger was aimed at reducing duplication of efforts, improving efficiency and ensuring cost effectiveness between the two institutions.