Malawi orders Chinese traders out of rural areas

Chinese contractors working on a Kenyan road. Malawi ordered all Chinese nationals operating businesses in rural areas to relocate to the cities by June 30, 2012. FILE|AFRICA REVIEW 

Malawi Government has ordered all Chinese nationals operating businesses in districts headquarters and rural areas to relocate to the cities by June 30, 2012 or have their business licences revoked.

The government reacted to concerns raised by small and medium entrepreneurs in Karonga region, northern Malawi, that the Chinese were monopolising small businesses in the districts.

In the petition to government, traders in Karonga district bemoaned the influx of the Chinese nationals doing small businesses in districts.

The petitioners accused the Chinese of flooding the market with cheap materials thus knocking other traders out of market.

On April 12, 2012, the government ordered all Chinese traders in the all districts to relocate to cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, and Zomba and municipality city of Luchenza.

Licences revoked

The letter that was signed by secretary in the Ministry of Trade Newby Kumwembe gave the Chinese traders up to June 30, 2012 to leave the rural areas.

"The trade agreement Malawi Government and China does not allow traders to operate in district centres. We, therefore, ask the Chinese nationals trading in rural areas to relocate to the cities by July 30," the letter reads in part.

In the letter, Mr Kumwembe warned that those who will not adhere to the directive will have their licences completely revoked.

Tension is high in many district centres as the deadline is fast approaching.

In December 2007, Malawi ended its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and switched to China and since then, the southern African nation has experienced influx of Chinese traders.

In return, China constructed Parliament, highway, conference centre, university and will be constructing a stadium in the capital Lilongwe.

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