Malawian officials will be visiting the UAE in November on a trade mission that will notably see the two countries sign a double taxation agreement (DTA) and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA), as the country looks to shore up its slipping FDI figures.

Malawi’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika was not among those invited to the upcoming Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai, but Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said that it was not of major concern ahead of the dedicated trade mission.

“We believe that we cannot just be attending each and every forum for the sake of it. The trade mission to Dubai is being organised jointly between the government and private sector, and we believe the mission will yield a lot of results,” he told Nyasa Times.

However, both trade missions and forums have proven valuable to Malawi, and Nkombezi noted that there are investments in telecommunications and agriculture as a result of these platforms, while the November mission has been packaged to be as effective as possible.

He added that Malawi had been urged to use every available opportunity to attract to create employment, reduce poverty and prompt development, “but the investors being what they are take time to assess the opportunities and, therefore results may not be immediate.”

Deliby Chimbalu, public relations manager at the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) detailed that during the mission the country will sign two trade agreements – a double taxation agreement and an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

“This will be apart from exhibiting opportunities in trade and investment that are available in Malawi,” she said.

The mission comes at a critical time for Malawi, as the country flags in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) when compared with its neighbours, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2014 Investment Report.

In 2013 Malawi only managed to attract about $118m – approximately 10% lower than its FDI of $129m in 2012, and well below Mozambique at $5.9bn, Tanzania at $1.9bn and Zambia at $1.8bn. Malawi’s stuttering investment has been attributed to poor business environment and a lack of focus.