The governments of South Sudan and Malawi have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at boosting agriculture and inter-border trade between the two countries.
This comes after representatives from the two countries met in the capital Juba on Thursday to strike a deal, which also seeks to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.
The MOU also seeks to break the national frontiers to create unrestricted access to opportunities for women and youths in the two countries.
South Sudan’s Minister of Trade and Commerce, MKoul Athian, who signed the deal on behalf of the government of South Sudan said the MOU came at a crucial time.
He said “…it will [the MOU] help us a lot. Our regional partners have been helping us a lot, but Malawi has come, this will rescue our current economic situation,” he said. “We have our women, our youth whom we need to empower.”
The MOU provides that the ministry of trade from the two countries empowers business people by creating a safe and enabling environment for trade.
Malawi is a large producer and exporter of maize in Southern Africa with over a million tons in surplus annually. South Sudan seeks to take advantage of this opportunity.
Malawian Minister of Trade, Sosten Alfred, who signed on behalf of his government remarked that his country consumes 3 million tons out of the 4 million tons of maize it produces.
Alfred said “Malawi has a surplus of agriculture commodities – producing about 4 million tons of maize this season and only consuming about 3 million. Now it has 1 million tons which really must find a market somewhere.”
Alfred said other products including groundnuts, coffee, rice, and sugar will be among a set of commodities Malawi could export to South Sudan in the next months.
Alfred says the agreement is a reflection of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which allows borderless trade among African countries noting that “… the African Continental Free Trade Area teaches us that we now need to look beyond just our neighbors alone, or just our region. We need now to look at Africa as one market, one people.”
Malawi, a country that does not produce oil, seeks to benefit from South Sudan’s petroleum products to which Alfred says Malawians are looking forward to welcoming potential South Sudanese investors into the oil sector.
South Sudanese Minister Athian called on traders and investors in South Sudan to start trading with Malawians and create employment for thousands of jobless youths in the country.
He said the MOU will improve food insecurity and will place millions of South Sudanese on the edge of catastrophic hunger, according to multiple humanitarian reports.
Athian commending the effort of the government of Malawi to save South Sudan said “South Sudan has been in war for almost ten years now and we have not been producing anything due to insecurity which has resulted in shortage of food items in the market.
“We have been importing from our neighbors and far beyond Africa to rescue our situation in South Sudan, but Malawi has seen our situation and come to rescue us.”