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 co-operation. 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. Canada also expressed concern about the Malawian Government’s harsh response to popular protest in late July of 2011 and called upon the Government to exercise restraint and avoid any acts that could lead to further escalation of tensions. Canada has remained concerned with the evolution of governance and economic and financial management in the country since then. We closed our resident office of the High Commission in Lilongwe in July 2009.
Canada is determined to continue to assist the fight against poverty in Malawi. Our government currently provides assistance through multilateral and regional institutions, as well as via its support to Canadian non-governmental organizations. CIDA's 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). The goal of CIDA's program 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. 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. The CIDA's Director and Head of Aid for Malawi are based in Mozambique. In Lilongwe, the program is supported by a small Program Support Unit with consultant technical advisors in Education and Nutrition.
Bilateral merchandise trade with Canada is modest, but increasing. According to Statistics Canada, two-way trade between Canada and Malawi totalled $76.72 million in 2010. Key Canadian exports to Malawi include machinery and vehicles, while the primary Malawian export to Canada is uranium. Malawi also exports tea, tobacco and spices, and offers significant expanding investment opportunities, especially in the mining, power, environmental applications, aerospace, and ICT sectors.
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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