Poverty Reduced by One Third in Malawi

Geneva, 10 June 2010

"Poverty in Malawi has been reduced from 64% of the population to 40% since 2003" said Mr. Newby Henry Kumwembe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Malawi. He was speaking at a side event organized by CUTS Geneva Resource Centre in the WTO on 10 June 2010 during the review of Malawi trade policy by the WTO. According to Mr. Kumwembe this impressive reduction in poverty "has been possible due to sustained economic growth and by maintaining an open trade policy regime."

Mr. Kumwembe also highlighted the many challenges still faced by Malawi. "The two most important challenges facing Malawi are: very high transport costs as Malawi is a landlocked country; and the lack of supply-side capacities", he said. He appealed to Malawi development partners for more aid-for-trade to enable Malawi to realize its full developmental potential.

David Luke of the United National Development Programme concurred with the assessment by Mr. Kumwembe. According to Mr. Luke "Malawi presents a mixed picture in mainstreaming trade into development and inadequate human and financial resources are the main causes for under-performance". Mr. Luke also mentioned that social sectors had received greater attention from donors than productive sectors. While investment in social sectors is extremely important, productive sectors too should not be ignored.

Michael Roberts of the WTO Secretariat in his presentation pointed out the importance of aid for trade in helping countries like Malawi maximizing the contribution of trade to economic development and poverty reduction. He pointed out that "growth should be sustained and broad-based to ensure lasting development impacts". Among the many constraints mentioned, he also identified the need for better coordination among donors. For example, more than twenty donors are active in Malawi without always coordinating their funding activities.

The event was attended by representatives of government missions, international organizations, and civil society in Geneva. This was also the first time that such an event was organized in the WTO by an NGO.

For further details, contact geneva@cuts.org