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Exports up 28% in second quarter

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ADVOCATES REDUCED NUMBER OF BORDER AGENCIES – Toulmin

Malawi’s exports rose by 28 percent in the second quarter of 2019 to hit $316.6 million fuelled by a jump in sugar exports, figures from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) indicate.

This is compared to the first quarter of the year when the country exported goods worth $247.3 million.

With Malawi’s import bill seen at an average of $209 million per month, the $316.6 million realised from imports in the three months of the second quarter was enough to take the country through one and a half months.

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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.

RBM figures further show that imports, on the other hand, inched up by 3.2 percent to $723.7 million in the second quarter.

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“Resultantly, trade balance improved to an estimated deficit of $407.1 million from minus $454.2 million in the previous quarter,” RBM says.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (MCCCI) Chief Executive Officer, Chancellor Kaferapanjira, was not available for comment yesterday.

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.

“The plan to reduce border agencies from 14 to five can really transform their experience in terms of how easy it is to get goods out of the country and we are already doing a number of things such as the trade and transport facilitation plan which is supporting one-stop shop at the border, trying to reduce the number of border agencies and improve computerisation and automation of customs procedures and link the customs department with others such as the bureau of standards among others,” Toulmin said.

Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister, Francis Kasaila, said during the launch, that the plan aims at mitigating challenges such as lack of territorial access to the sea, isolation from major world markets and high cost of doing business perpetuated by Malawi’s land-lockedness.

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