Special Economic Zones

Special Economic Zones can be broadly defined as demarcated geographical areas contained within a country’s national boundaries where the rules of business are different from those that prevail in the national territory. These differential rules principally deal with investment conditions, international trade and customs, taxation, and the regulatory environment; whereby the zone is given a business environment that is intended to be more liberal from a policy perspective and more effective from an administrative perspective than that of the national territory.

Malawi is establishing SEZs to fast-track industrialization which would lead to sustainable economic growth and development. This is being championed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), through MITC. So far, MITC intends to develop several areas into SEZs and these include; the Agro-processing Special Economic Zone (AP-SEZ), possibly along Zalewa, an Industrial Park at Chigumula Blantyre where 27.3 ha of land has already been set aside for this purpose, an Industrial Park in Lilongwe and another at Chintheche, Nkhata-Bay.

With support from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) project, the institution (MITC) is at an advanced stage in the procurement of a consultant to conduct a feasibility study and develop a roadmap for the establishment of an AP-SEZ.

Export Processing Zones
The Export Processing Zones (EPZs) regime was established to attract export-orientated industries, by offering them especially favorable investment incentives as compared to the remainder of the manufacturing sector in the country.
The Export Processing Zones Act, came into force in 1995. All companies engaged exclusively in manufacturing for export may apply for EPZ status, as Government accords EPZ status only to firms (foreign or domestic) that produce exclusively for export.
There are no specific zones dedicated to export processing in Malawi, rather it is firms which are designated the status of EPZs and are located in areas of choice and convenience to the investor. The Ministry of Industry and Trade administers the Export Processing Zones Regime in Malawi assisted by the EPZ Monitoring and Evaluation Committee as stipulated in the Act.
An Export Enterprise Certificate is valid for a period of five years and may, thereafter, be renewed for successive periods of two years and companies can chose to graduate or not from the scheme. The law requires all exporters to repatriate back to Malawi 100 percent of export proceeds and register the same with the Reserve Bank of Malawi within 6 months of export.
Traditional industries such as tobacco, tea, coffee, and cotton are excluded from the EPZ Regime.  Currently, the firms operating under the EPZ status are in three categories of export products namely, (a) natural rubber and wood products; (b) macadamia and coffee; and (c) textile.