Foreign relations of Malawi

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Malawi's former President Bakili Muluzi continued the pro-Western foreign policy established by his predecessor, Hastings Banda. It maintains excellent diplomatic relations with principal Western countries. Malawi's close relations with South Africa throughout the apartheid era strained its relations with other African nations. Following the collapse of apartheid in 1994, Malawi developed, and currently maintains, strong diplomatic relations with all African countries.

Bilateral donors[edit]

Important bilateral donors include Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Republic of China (Taiwan), the United Kingdom, and the United States. Multilateral donors include the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and the United Nations organizations.


Malawi assumed the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2001. Muluzi took an active role in SADC on issues such as the global coalition against terrorism and land reform in Zimbabwe.


Malawi has been a member of the ACP group since Lomé I and is also a party to the Cotonou agreement, the partnership agreement between the European Community/European Union and 77 states from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Memberships in international organizations[edit]

Malawi is a member of the following international organizations: the Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations and some of its specialized and related agencies (i.e. UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO), IMF, World Bank, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, Organization of African Unity (OAU), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Lome Convention, African Development Bank (AFDB), Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), Non-Aligned Movement, G-77, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Malawi is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).

Bilateral Relations[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Albania June 1985

Both countries established diplomatic relations in June 1985.[1]

 Andorra 19 May 2008

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 19 May 2008.[2]

 Armenia 20 January 2012

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 20 January 2012.[3]

 Azerbaijan 21 May 2004[5] Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Malawi were established on May 21, 2004.[5]
 Bahrain See Bahrain–Malawi relations

Both countries are full members of the Southern African Development Community, Commonwealth of Nations and of the Non-Aligned Movement.

 Canada 1973
 China 2008

Hastings Banda recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1967. In January 2008, Malawi switched this recognition to the People's Republic of China.[4]

Since 2008 there has been a significant shift by the Malawian government towards accepting investment from China.[7] Potentially this may be part of a wider power struggle between the East and West in Africa.[8]

 Croatia 13 November 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 13 November 1998.[9][10]

 Cyprus 22 June 2000
 Denmark 1964
 Georgia 19 September 2011

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 19 September 2011.[12]

 India See India–Malawi relations
 Israel See Israel–Malawi relations
 Japan July 1964

Both countries established diplomatic relations in July 1964.[14]

 Kosovo 20 July 2016 Both countries established diplomatic relations on 20 July 2016.[15] Kosovo and Malawi enjoy excellent relationships.
 Latvia 10 September 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 10 September 1998.[16]

 Lithuania 18 November 2001

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 18 November 2001.[17]

 Mexico 10 December 1998
  • Malawi is accredited to Mexico from its embassy in Washington, D.C., United States.[18]
  • Mexico is accredited to Malawi from its embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.[19]
 North Korea 25 June 1982

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 25 June 1982.

 Mongolia 21 December 2011

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 21 December 2011.[20]

 Mozambique See Malawi-Mozambique relations

Between 1985 and 1995, Malawi accommodated more than a million refugees from Mozambique. The refugee crisis placed a substantial strain on Malawi's economy but also drew significant inflows of international assistance. The accommodation and eventual repatriation of the Mozambicans is considered a major success by international organizations.

 Pakistan 14 August 1965

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 14 August 1965. Pakistan and Malawi are both members of the Commonwealth of Nations

 Philippines 3 May 2001

Neither country has an embassy in each other's territories. The Philippines's embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, is accredited to Malawi; on the other hand, Malawi's embassy in Tokyo, Japan, is accredited to the Philippines.

As of 25 May 2018, the date of presentation of credentials of Philippine non-resident ambassador Uriel Norman Garibay to President Arthur Peter Mutharika, there are 41 Filipino nationals residing in Malawi, mainly in Blantyre and Lilongwe.[21]

 Poland See Malawi–Poland relations
 Romania 15 July 1985

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 July 1985.[22]


In 1996, Malawi received a number of Rwandan and Congolese refugees seeking asylum. The government did not turn away refugees, but it did invoke the principle of "first country of asylum." Under this principle, refugees who requested asylum in another country first, or who had the opportunity to do so would not subsequently be granted asylum in Malawi. There were no reports of the forcible repatriation of refugees.

 Serbia 14 November 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 14 November 1998.[23]

 Singapore 24 August 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 24 August 1998.[24]

 South Africa See Malawi–South Africa relations

South Africa's first formal relationship with an independent African country was established with Malawi, beginning in 1967.[25]

The colonial structures of Malawian labour export to South African mines continued after Malawi achieved independence in 1964. Led by dictator Hastings Banda, Malawi was the only African country to maintain close relations with White-ruled South Africa until the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela. Malawians were viewed as important workers in the South African mines due to their "skills, work discipline and lack of militancy"[26] From 1988 to 1992, around 13,000 Malawian migrant laborers were forcefully repatriated out of South Africa. Officially, this was because 200 Malawians had tested positive for HIV in the previous two years, but many believe that it was due to the need for retrenchment of laborers during a crisis in South Africa's mining industry.[26]

Since South Africa and Malawi had their first democratic elections in 1994, Malawi and South Africa have enhanced relations. In 2008, the two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to enhance the relationship between the two countries through enhanced security cooperation.[27]

 South Korea 9 March 1965

Establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Malawi was on 9 March 1965. In 2011 Bilateral Trade between both nations totaled US$31 million.[28]

 Spain See Malawi–Spain relations

Malawi has a dispute with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi).

 Turkey 1964[29]
  • Embassy of Malawi in Berlin is accredited to Turkey.[29]
  • Turkish Embassy in Lusaka is accredited to Malawi.[29]
  • Trade volume between the two countries was US$21 million in 2019 (Malawi's exports/imports: 16.4/4.67 million USD).[29]
 United Kingdom See Malawi–United Kingdom relations

Historical ties, especially with Scotland, make the UK historically one of the more important donors and supporters of Malawi. However, the expulsion of the UK's High Commissioner in April 2011 may change this relationship. Since the expulsion the UK has suspended direct government aid,[30] citing concerns over governance and human rights.

 United States See Malawi–United States relations

The transition from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy significantly strengthened the already cordial U.S. relationship with Malawi. Significant numbers of Malawians study in the United States. The United States has an active Peace Corps program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, and an Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Malawi.

In July 2011, the United States suspended direct funding. The US government agency responsible, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, suspended aid because it was 'deeply upset' by the deaths of the 19 people during the July protests.[31]

Malawi and the Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

Malawi became a full member of the Commonwealth on independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, was Queen of Malawi, represented by the Governor-General of Malawi, until the country became a Commonwealth republic in 1966, when the then Prime Minister of Malawi, Hastings Banda, declared himself the first President of Malawi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Bilateral Affairs". Archived from the original on 29 October 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Malawi". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Malawi". Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  6. ^ Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada (17 November 2008). "Canada-Malawi Relations". GAC. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ "China puts its mark on Malawi | Global development". The Guardian. London. 7 May 2011.
  8. ^ Glennie, Jonathan (10 December 2010). "WikiLeaks cables: China's aid to Africa has strings attached". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "MVEP • Date of Recognition and Establishment of Diplomatic Relations". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  10. ^ "MVEP • Overview of Bilateral Treaties of the Republic of Croatia by Country". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  11. ^ (in Greek)$file/List%20of%20Malawi.pdf?openelement Archived 28 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "საქართველოს საგარეო საქმეთა სამინისტრო - Malawi". Archived from the original on 7 April 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Greece's Bilateral Relations". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Japan-Malawi Relations (Basic Data)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  15. ^ "Malawi: Govt Establishes Formal Diplomatic Relations With Kosovo". AllAfrica. 24 July 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  16. ^ Lobzova, Liene. "Establishment and renewal of diplomatic relations". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ Embassy of the Republic of Malawi in the United States (28 April 2018). "Embassy of Malawi in the United States". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Embassy of Mexico in South Africa". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  20. ^ [3][dead link]
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Diplomatic Relations of Romania - Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Malawi". Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  26. ^ a b Aliens and AIDS in Southern Africa: The Malawi-South Africa debate by Wiseman Chijere Chirwa, in African Affairs, 97:53-79 (1998)
  27. ^ Country, Malawi to Enhance Defence Co-Operation by Bathandwa Mbola, BuaNews, 25 February 2008
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 September 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ a b c d "Relations between Turkey and Malawi".
  30. ^ "UK cuts aid to Malawi government". BBC. 14 July 2011.
  31. ^ "US suspends aid to Malawi after killings". BBC. 26 July 2011.