Although Canada established formal diplomatic relations with Malawi in 1973, development assistance has been part of Canada-Malawi relations since its independence in 1964. The Canadian High Commission in Mozambique is responsible for representing Canadian interests in Malawi. Malawi’s High Commission to Canada is located in Washington, D.C.
Canada and Malawi’s bilateral relations are based on our Commonwealth ties and the long-standing relationships created through development cooperation. In 1992, however, Canada suspended its development programs as a result of concerns about governance and human rights in Malawi. Canada resumed its development program when Malawi transformed into a multiparty democracy in 1994, but we closed our resident office of the High Commission in Lilongwe in July 2009.
Following elections in Malawi in May 2014, Canada is looking to the country’s new leadership to set the country on the path to further economic and democratic reforms.
Canada is determined to continue to assist the fight against poverty in Malawi. The goal of DFATD programming in Malawi is to help the country secure a future for children and youth by reducing the primary school dropout rate and improving the nutritional status of young children and pregnant/nursing women. DFATD programming in Malawi is closely aligned with the social development as well as the gender and capacity development objectives of the Government of Malawi's Growth and Development Strategy for 2011-2016 (MGDS) whose main objectives are to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Pursuant to the 2012 federal budget, DFATD will not undertake new bilateral programming in Malawi. However, Malawi is one of Canada's ten countries of focus for the Muskoka Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative, with a focus on the nutrition path. DFATD will honour Canada's commitment to Muskoka-funded initiatives in Malawi until the end of 2015. Malawi will also remain eligible for Canadian development and humanitarian assistance provided through multilateral organizations and Canadian NGOs, through the Pan Africa Regional Program, and from other government departments.
Bilateral merchandise trade with Canada is modest, but increasing. In 2012, two-way merchandise trade totalled $113.2 million. Top Canadian merchandise exports to Malawi included miscellaneous textiles, machinery, and electrical machinery and equipment for a total of $3.9 million. Top Canadian merchandise imports from Malawi comprised mainly inorganic chemicals, fruits and nuts, and coffee and tea for a total of $109.2 million.
In 2004, Malawi signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Least Developed Countries Market Access Initiative with Canada, thereby granting Malawian exporters duty-free and quota-free access to the Canadian market for almost all products.
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