National Policy Dialogue held in ‘the Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi

03 September 2013

The fourth National Policy Dialogue under the Finnish funded WCO ESA Project ‘Building Trade Capacity through Customs Modernization in the East and Southern Africa Region’ was held on 29 and 30 August 2013 in Blantyre, Malawi. The first session brought together participants from Government and the private sector and the second session the various Government agencies involved in international trade and border management. The policy dialogue supports the ongoing implementation of the WCO Capacity Building Strategy, especially in the ESA region.

The event was officially opened by the Deputy Commissioner General of the Malawi Revenue Authority, Mr. Crispin C Kulemeka, who encouraged discourse on Coordinated Border Management issues by both Government and the private sector. The dialogue was facilitated by the Director of the Capacity Building Directorate, Mr.Erich Kieck and Mr. Mika Poutiainen of Finnish Customs supported by Mr. Abdul Bonaya of the WCO ESA Project. The Host, Ms. Agnes Katsonga Phiri, the Commissioner of Malawi Customs and current WCO ESA Vice-chair, warmly welcomed the facilitators and participants to the event and challenged all stakeholders to step up to the mark and improve the situation at the borders. She further informed all the participants of a recent Government decision to rationalise the number of agencies at the border.

The event provided an opportunity for the business fraternity participants to raise important issues related to trade facilitation. It was underlined that the reduction of cross-border trading costs is critical for a landlocked economy and participants identified a set of issues that will guide future actions.

During the event participants considered international and regional developments and practices regarding coordinated border management, including a case study of this in Finland, as well as the practical application of these in Malawi. The policy dialogue was organized by the WCO, Finnish Customs and the Malawi Revenue Authority.