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Trade deficit seen at $134.8m in Q3

OVERALL balance o f p a y m e n t s
registered a deficit of $134.8 million in the t h i r d q u a r t e r o f 2 0 2 0 compared to a deficit of $139.8 million in the preceding quarter, figures from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) show.

This is compared to a $98.3 million deficit in the third quarter of 2019.

Economic experts say the marginal narrowing of the trade gap could not
signal improvement of the economy.

Overall between January and September
2020, the country imported goods worth $2 billion while exporting goods worth $500 million, resulting in a trade deficit
of $1.5 billion.

Acting Polytechnic Vice Principal Betchani Tcheleni said in an interview
yesterday that the Covid-19 pandemic led to a slowdown in businesses not only in Malawi but across the globe, hence, the drop in trading activities with other countries.

“Many people were not importing
commodities because of Covid-19. So, much as exports dropped, imports also went down,” Tcheleni said.

During the first q u a r t e r o f 2 0 2 0 , M a l a w i e x p o r t e d goods worth $128.3
million and imported $498.1 million.

During the second quarter of the year, the country exported goods worth $143.6
million but imported goods valued at $536.4 million where as in the third quarter, the c o u n t r y e x p o r t e d goods amounting to $223.7 million.

S p e a k i n g i n a separate interview,
economics lecturer at Chancellor College E x l e y S u l u m b u said the Covid-19
pandemic affected business dynamics
affecting both demand and supply.

“T h e p a n d e m i c caused a slow-down in trade; so, demand for some of our exports shrank and imports also contracted but we increased importation
of Covid-19 pandemic-related goods. As such, t h i n g s h a v e been unpredictable,” Sulumbu said.

Trade deficit has continued to widen
over the years and M a l a w i r e m a i n s a p r e d o m i n a n t l y i m p o r t i n g a n d consuming nation.

Malawi remains an agrarian economy with tobacco still the top export crop.

The c o u n t r y c o n t i n u e s t o experience negative trade balance with petroleum products, automobiles, fertilizer and medicines topping the imports list.

Tobacco, tea, sugar, oil cake and soya beans remain among export products and most are ferried outside the country in their raw form.

F i g u r e s f r o m National Statistical
O ff i c e s h o w t h a t , between 2009 and 2016, exports and imports increased by 159 and 245 percent, respectively.

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