Our embassy in Lilongwe was closed in 1996. Malawi is currently attached to the Embassy of France in Zimbabwe. Our Ambassador in Harare is accredited by the authorities of Malawi.
The political relationship is cordial but not very consistent. President Bingu Mutharika participated in the Africa-France Summits of 2005, 2007 and 2010. President Banda appointed the High Commissioner of Malawi in the United Kingdom to represent Malawi in the last Africa-France Summit held in December 2013 in Paris.
There have been very few visits. In 1996, President Muluzi met with Jacques Godfrain, France’s Minister for Cooperation. In 1997, Mr Godfrain visited Malawi. In 1998, Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs met with Charles Josselin. In January 2003, Minister of State Renaud Muselier visited Malawi. In February 2003, President Muluzi visited France for the Africa-France Summit. President Bingu Mutharika participated in the three last Africa-France Summits in Bamako (December 2005), Cannes (February 2007) and Nice (July 2010) where he chaired a round table on food security alongside the President of the French Republic.
Economic relations between France and Malawi are weak (€7.7 million in trade in 2015). France posted a bilateral trade deficit of €2.2 million. French exports (€2.7 million in 2015) are mainly pharmaceutical products (42%). France mainly imports cereals, sugar and manufactured tobacco. Six French companies are present in Malawi. Lafarge, Total, CFAO, CGA-CCM, AGS, SDV.
Malawi is not part of the Priority Solidarity Zone (ZSP). France is therefore mainly present via multilateral institutions and does not have a bilateral cooperation budget. In keeping with the new mapping of the network, the French Cultural Centre in Blantyre closed in summer 2011.
As Malawi reached the end of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative in 2006, France’s bilateral effort to forgive debt and to refinance it in donations was reflected in the signing in 2014 of a debt reduction and development contract (C2D). Payments via the C2D mechanism will amount to €10 million over five years. It has been allocated to a mapping project of geological resources in Malawi, as well as actions aiming to build capacity of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, especially in the creation of a mining data centre.
For 31 years (1979 to 2010), France maintained military cooperation in aeronautics by posting a military cooperation officer in charge of training pilots and mechanics to the Malawi Air Wing helicopter squadron, known as the French Squadron. Since the idea of Malawi participating in peacekeeping operations in Africa seemed unachievable, France ended this cooperation in July 2010.