Wednesday, November 3, 2010

President of Malawi on 5-day state visit in India

Malawi President Prof Bingu Mutharika, accompanied by the first lady, today arrived here on a five-day visit to the country on the invitation of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

This is Mr Mutharika's first visit to India as President of Malawi. He has studied at Delhi University in 1960s. A large business delegation as well as senior officials have come with him. He called on Ms Patil, who is hosting a banquet in his honour. He also met Vice-President Hamid Ansari and held delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj. India's relations with Malawi have been close and friendly. The visit is expected to further strengthen the bilateral relations. The process of revitalisation of the bilateral relations between the two countries saw the visit of Dr Ansari to Malawi in January this year.

Mr Mutharika as the chairperson of African Union in the current year has played a positive role in strengthening the ties between India and the African Union. ''His visit will provide an opportunity to enhance not only our engagement bilaterally with Malawi but to reiterate our commitment to work with Africa as a whole. We see in Malawi a valuable democratic partner in Africa. It has played an energetic role in COMESA, SADC and provided leadership to the African Union,'' the MEA said here. The Pan-African e-Network project has been implemented in Malawi and is an important aspect of capacity building and support to the education and health sectors. Malawi is also a beneficiary of the new scholarship schemes offered to the African countries in the areas of agricultural sciences and scientific research. India provided a line of credit of 30 million dollars to Malawi in 2008 which was used for irrigation, grain storage, tobacco threshing and one village one product projects. A line of credit of 50 million dollars was announced during Dr Ansari's visit. Malawi has sent proposals for utilisation of the line of credit for projects dealing with setting up of cotton ginning & spinning facilities; green belt initiative; and one village one product programme. The bilateral trade is 185 million dollars and is increasing by the utilisation of Malawi of greater opportunities in the Indian market.

Efforts to find complementarities for increasing bilateral trade between India and Malawi will be made. Malawi has joined the Duty Free Tariff Preference scheme announced during the first India Africa Forum summit in April 2008 and it has a positive impact on the increase of Malawi's export to India. Mr Mutharika and his delegation also met with Indian business leaders during a Business luncheon meeting to be organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and ASSOCHAM. He would also visit Agra and Goa.