MALAWI – Malawi is set to export 100,000 tonnes of soybeans and 20,000 tonnes of sesame seeds to China duty-free at a total worth of US$100 million.

Paul Kwengwere, the Director of the Malawi Investment and Trade Center (MITC) revealed in a written response to media.

According to the statement, the Malawi Investment and Trade Center (MITC) has been granted preferential quota and duty-free market access to China to export soybeans and sesame seeds following an import request made to the MITC by a Chinese company.

China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans with 100 million tonnes. The Middle Kingdom is also the largest market for sesame, accounting for 70% of global purchases.

In Malawi, soybean production was around 264,000 tonnes in 2021 according to official data while the supply of sesame only amounted to 5,800 tonnes. 

Mr.Kwengwere therefore has courted those who may have the commodities to engage the MITC to tap into the opportunity.

“The buyer is willing to sign a three to five-year contract with prospective suppliers and outlined product specifications, payment terms, and other logistical issues,” he noted.

He added that the officials are awaiting the exporters to send their offers to the buyer and to negotiate logistical arrangements for the same. The payment terms preferred by the buyers are letters of credit agreed with the bankers of both buyer and seller.

This interest from the Chinese operator offers an outlet for the soya and sesame sectors in the East African country and could contribute to strengthening the enthusiasm for these two oilseeds within the production system.

Kwengwere said Mitc is also looking at markets for grains, oil seeds, sugar, pulses, poultry, plastic products, and manufacturing products in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.

In recent years, Malawi has failed to sustain its export trade, opting for traditional products and cheap labor.

However, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been pursuing a number of policies and strategies to boost exports, including the National Export Strategy II as well as the commencement of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is a market of 1.2 billion people with an estimated US$3 trillion in combined gross domestic product.

Malawi has also been banking on the Buy Malawi Strategy launched six years ago to enhance the competitiveness of local firms, stimulate local production, promote industrialization, and enhance import substitution.

However, Jacob Nyirongo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Farmers Union of Malawi said in an interview that the country needs a proactive role in positioning its agriculture system to take advantage of such opportunities.