Malawi’ export earnings went up by 4.5 percent in 2019 to hit K668.6 billion from K639.2 billion in 2018, latest figures from the International Trade Centre (ITC) Trade Map show.
However, the earnings remain lower than the record K734.5 billion worth of exports earned in 2017.
This means that Kenya became Malawi’s top export market in Africa, replacing South Africa.
Top export commoditie s including tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes, sugars and sugar confectionery, coffee, tea, maté and spices, oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, miscellaneous grains, seeds and fruit, and edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers.
However, the country imported goods worth K2.1 trillion from the global market during the year.
The imports have also increased by 10.5 percent when compared to K1.9 trillion recorded in 2018.
Top five imports include machinery and mechanical appliances, products of the printing industry, electrical machinery and equipment, fuels, and fertilizers.
Speaking in an interview Tuesday, economist, Collen Kalua, said the situation is stemming from an economic slowdown experienced in 2019.
“What needs to be done is to stabilize the energy sector in the short term.
“Secondly, we have to revamp our agriculture sector and ensure value addition before export. We also should reduce interest rates further so that firms are able to borrow to enhance production,” Kalua said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of National Trade Facilitation Action Plan recently, World Bank Country Manager, Greg Toulmin, said Malawi needed to focus on easing administrative processes for exporters in the country to advance exportation of locally produced products that will help grow the economy.
Toulmin said exporters and business operators were busy people that had many things to think about hence, making it easier for them to export by reducing the amount of time they have to spend on administrative procedures.
Malawi’s biggest traditional top exports have remained tobacco, tea, cotton and sugar in recent years.
Though uranium promised to provide some relief to Malawi, the closure and subsequent putting on care and maintenance of Kayerekera Mine in 2014 wiped away all the hope.