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Lilongwe, Wednesday 20 July 2016: Malawi is reaping tangible benefits from being a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi has said.

Citing the support provided to the growth of small and medium enterprises which COMESA has mobilized funding to develop, the president observed that the regional bloc was dealing with issues that were directly impacting on the people in the grassroots.

“As a founding member State, we are pleased to see that COMESA is not a talk-shop. Malawi has continued to benefit from being a member as we are seeing the programmes and projects being implemented in this country,” he said when he met the Secretary General of COMESA Sindiso Ngwenya in State House, Lilongwe this week.

He said as a regional body, COMESA needs to respond to the needs of the member States by introducing programmes that will improve the livelihood of the people and not only the high level policy issues.

“Small and Medium Enterprises need to be helped through the provision of capital so that they can grow their businesses as they are crucial in this race of economic development,” the President said.

He urged the private sector to take up this challenge and invest in the various SMES in leather, textiles and garments so that these can then grow into bigger companies. This is the only way we can develop by first growing the SMEs, he added.

He also commended the leadership of COMESA Secretariat for being practical and implementing programmes that directly benefit the people at the grassroots.

The Head of State highlighted some of the programmes and activities that his government has embarked on to attract Foreign Direct Investment into Malawi and efforts being made to deepen economic growth since he came into office in 2014.

Secretary General Ngwenya briefed the President on regional integration with a special focus on Malawi’s performance. He stressed the need for the country to push for agro led industrialization given that majority of the people live in the country side. The need for value addition was also discussed.

During his two day visit, Mr Ngwenya held meetings with the Minister of Finance Honourable Goodall Gondwe, the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Honourable Bright Msaka, the Minister of Transport and Public Works Honourable Rev. Malison Ndau and the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry Mr Cliff Chiunda.