By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Malawi’s exports grew by nine percent in 2018 after recording an export value of $975. 084 million (about K731.313 billion) when compared to the $889.104 million (about K668. 828 billion) recorded in 2017, latest figures from Trade Map have shown.
Trends from the past five years, however, show that 2018 is the only year that the country has recovered from a downward spiral of the exports where the figures kept on declining year-on-year.
The 2018 figure is 31 percent shy of the $1. 420 billion (about K1.064 trillion) recorded in 2013.
Among the top five products contributing to the trend is tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes accounting for $687.703 million, coffee, tea, maté and spices accounting for $92.81 million, edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons accounting for $37.708 million, sugars and sugar confectionery bringing in $33.77 million and oil seeds and oleaginous fruits; miscellaneous grains, seeds and fruits which raked in $29.282 million.
However the country continued to import more products than it exports registering an import value of $1,367,145, 000 in the year.
The top five products that were imported include; machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors and boilers at $152. 330 million, electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof at $146. 932 million, pharmaceutical products at $123. 839 million, vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories at $108.12 million and plastics and articles thereof at $69.399 million.
Economic Commentator, Collen Kalua, said the development could be as a result of various factors but also could mean growth of the industry sector in the country.
“There are several issues here. It might be real increase in exports but it could possibly be growth of import substituting industries and lastly increase on import duty on goods we can produce in Malawi giving comparative advantage to our exporting manufacturing industries there could also be improvement of quality of exports like exporting processed commodities than raw materials,” Kalua said.