Malawi registers modest export growth

Malawi merchandise export trade of agricultural products has registered a modest growth of 6.5 percent between 2005 to 2016, figures from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have shown.

During the year under review, LDC exports of goods and services decreased by 6 percent in 2016, while it dropped further from 0.97 percent to 0.94 percent in 2016.

Tobacco still dominates Malawi’s exports

Zambia ($5 801 million or K4 billion), Tanzania ($5 072 million or K3.7 billion) and Mozambique ($3 355 or K2.4 billion) outperformed Malawi.

In 2016 at $1 017 million (K742 billion), the country’s merchandise export trade declined by 5.8 percent compared to a 19.4 percent decline in 2015, on account of stable prices of food and beverages which helped exporters to arrest negative export growth.

On the other hand imports registered 6.9 percent growth during the review period, now at $2 425 million (about K1.8 billion) and recovered from a decline of 16.4 percent in 2015, only to grow by 4.9 percent during the year under review.

This is according to a document prepared by the WTO Secretariat for the Formal Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Least Developed Countries (LDC).

The deficit of $1 408 (K1 billion) comes despite having policies, strategies and efforts to implement programmess in several key areas in support of trade, industry and the private sector including the draft private sector strategy, National Investment Policy, National Export Strategy (NES), an updated micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) policy and the Buy Malawi Strategy.

The European Union (EU), followed by China, India and the United States were the main destination of LDCs’ exports in both 2005 and 2016 for agricultural merchandise exports.

“The LDCs and developing countries have benefitted from a continuing increase in duty-free market access over the last decade. From a global perspective, in 2015, the international trading community granted to LDCs duty-free market access on 65 percent of tariff lines, which is considerably higher than the respective share of 50 percent in the case of developing countries,” reads the communication in part.

In an earlier interview, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi expressed optimism on increasing export and reducing imports owing to the good economic outlook this year.

“We expect that food imports will go down and exports will pick up. However, the ministry will continue working on facilitating growth of non-food products as well as to improve our trade balance,” he said.

Agricultural products continue to dominate Malawi’s export basket, accounting for about 80 percent of Malawi’s exports. Most other sectors remain in infancy as tobacco, sugar, ores, coffee and tea constitute the largest export sectors of the economy.

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