Zimbabwe and Malawi will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs) development next month.

The deal, which is set to widen export markets for cross-border trading by SMEs under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) simplified trade regime, was struck at a recent Zimbabwe-Malawi Joint Trade and Customs (JTCC) meeting in Harare last week.

According to the ministry of Industry and Commerce, the meeting deliberated on requirements for granting imports and exports permits in the two
countries, sampling and testing requirements by the Malawi Bureau of Standards.

“The JTCC among other issues agreed on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion, tariff adjustments as well outstanding payments by companies in both countries.”

JTCC is a body mandated by the Zimbabwe-Malawi Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) meets annually to oversee implementation of the agreement.

The SMEs pact comes as government seeks to influence regional economic activities in a manner that would facilitate national export development.

Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha recently said that government seeks to get the best out of its chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

“The effect of the chairmanship is that it confers on the line ministers the chairmanship of the respective ministerial committees.

“Thus, I have assumed chairmanship of Sadc ministers of Commerce and Industry.”

Bimha said one of the key issues that Sadc and Comesa is the enhancement of intra regional trade.

“These economic blocs present market opportunities for Zimbabwean products.

However, they present challenges in that if we are not able to produce and export goods into the region, we will remain a net exporter of goods into the region, we will remain a net importer of goods from other countries.”

Data from the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency, ZimStat indicate that as at August this year, the country exported goods worth $1,2 billion compared to $3bn  imports to June 30.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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