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Interview: Malawi woos Chinese investment in cotton industry


12:27, April 04, 2012

LILONGWE, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Malawi on Tuesday expressed its willingness to attract more Chinese investment in its cotton industry, stressing that more value addition is needed.

The Malawian Minister of Industry and Trade John Bande told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that the southern African country wants to see more value addition to cotton where they would want Chinese companies establishing textile mills to produce textiles for exports to regional markets and other important markets.

"The Malawian government allocated large sums of resources in the cotton sector, and the aim is to add value to cotton before exports," the minister said.

"Malawi would be willing to work with the Chinese in areas that are supposed to promote diversification and exports, such as agro processing and manufacturing sectors," Bande added.

He said Malawi would want to cooperate with the Chinese in the service sectors including energy, tourism, information technology and construction, which would contribute a lot to the country's GDP.

For the time being, China has invested in a cotton growing and processing project in Balaka, southern Malawi, which Bande said was "complimenting the government's vision where cotton is processed and exported."

On the China-Malawi trade relations, Bande said Malawi's trade with China continues to grow significantly in terms of both imports and exports.

"Notably Malawi's exports to China grew by 294 percent between 2009 and 2010 from 1.3 billion Malawian kwacha (around 7.7 million U.S. dollars) to 5 billion kwacha," he said.

The minister said the major exports include tobacco, cotton, tea, minerals, wood and other products.

He also heaped praises on China's zero-tariff treatment to Malawi. "In March 2010, an agreement was reached between China and Malawi, whereby China phased in zero-tariff treatment of 95 percent of the products originating in Malawi and exported to China," Bande said.

"Under this agreement, 60 percent of the products listed gained duty free status in 2010. Crops which benefited from this treatment included coffee, tea, soy beans, groundnuts, honey and many other product," he said.

In terms of the recent withdraw of aid by the Western countries, including suspension of major aid packages, Bande said it has put the costs of doing business in Malawi even higher than before.


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