Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) has said the country needs to seriously consider diversifying its export base in the wake of growing trade deficit.
The call comes as Malawi still faces a significant trade deficit, importing about twice the value of goods it exports, raising questions on the effectiveness of various export strategies it has in place.
Recent figures from the International Trade Centre, Trade Map, show that exports have been declining significantly in the past five years.
In 2018, the country exported goods worth $879 million to the rest of the world.
The figure represents a 38 percent drop from the $1.4 billion worth of exports recorded in 2014.
In 2015 Malawi exported goods worth $1.08 billion while in 2016 the figure slightly dropped to $1.03 billion.
A drastic drop in the exports was recorded in 2017 when Malawi recorded exports valued at $889 million.
Ecama Executive Director, Maleka Thula, said in an interview that the drop could be due to poor performance in agriculture, Malawi’s economic mainstay.
He said this has been worsened by low global commodity prices over the past five years.
“We have experienced unchanged export revenue from the tobacco industry and this has generally affected overall growth in the country’s exports. At this point, we need to diversify our exports within and away from agriculture,” Thula said.
He added: “We need to identify other sectors that would help in broadening the export base and also critical is the need for value addition for our exports to ensure that we maximise export proceeds.”
Spokesperson in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Mayeso Msokera, said in an interview the government is working on reducing the trade deficit.
He cited the review of the Malawi National Export Strategy I and the design of a successor strategy currently underway.
“Our focus is to build the export readiness of Malawian exporters; grow the number of products being exported and that can favourably compete, develop regional and global value chains, promote entrepreneurship with emphasis on Micro [Small and Medium Enterprises],” Msokera said.
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