Malawi and Zambia recorded reduced trade flows in March and April according to the latest report from the COMESA Statistics on ‘COVID 19 Impacts on Trade’. These were the first two months in which COVID-19 spread to the countries.
This is part of a series of reports providing initial results on tracking trade flows in the COMESA region with the view to provide evidence on the impacts of COVID-19. According to the report, imports into Malawi declined by 32% in April compared to March while imports in May are forecasted to decline by 25%. Customs duty receipts declined by 27% in April compared to March.
The largest borders in terms of customs revenue, that is Songwe between Malawi and Tanzania and Mwanza between Malawi and Mozambique, recorded declines in duty receipts of 42% and 16% respectively.
The statistics report, which is the first in a series of country by country surveys, further states that Dedza border between Malawi and Mozambique is likely to lose 40% in customs duty revenue in May. As a result, Malawi Revenue Authority has introduced key measures which include the introduction of a COVID-19 criterion in the ASYCUDA World Customs System, which directs a list of low risk importers and a list of specified essential goods for the management of the crisis as provided by the government.
For Zambia, the main declines were recorded at Kazungula border with Botswana and Zimbabwe and the Nakonde border with Tanzania. Volumes of import traffic declined overall by 25% between April and March and this was mainly due to a decline of 83% in volumes recorded at Kazungula and a 42% decline recorded at the Nakonde border. Export traffic volumes also declined by 3%.
Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has introduced various measures including processing of exports at inland ports and heightened awareness for importers/exporters to conduct pre-arrival clearance and registration. At the same time, ZRA is promoting the use of electronic payment processes which is yet to catch on.