By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
The private sector has described the five years of implementing the National Export Strategy (NES) which ended in 2018 as a lost half decade.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Officer, Chancellor Kaferapanjira, told stakeholders at the review of NES and launch of a process to design a successor strategy in Lilongwe on Friday that when the strategy was developed in 2012, Malawi exported goods worth $1.47 billion while imports were at $2.59 billion.
This translated to a trade deficit of $1.1 billion in 2012.
He added that, at the end of implementation of the strategy in 2018, merchandise trade deficit was at $1 billion replete with a forecasted deficit of $1.1 billion in 2019.
Exports for 2018 were projected at $1.1 billion, much less than the 2012 exports of $1.47 billion.
“Malawi’s export trade performance actually deteriorated during the five years of the NES. There is need to focus on the micro or firm level to establish what needed to be done to upgrade the firms to export level and look at the sector level policies, specific laws and regulations, government institutions providing business related services, etc.
“There is also need to pay attention to the macro level enablers such as availability of electricity, infrastructure in the form of feeder roads in order to integrate the economy, macroeconomic factors and similar issues,” Kaferapanjira said.
Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Ken Ndala, acknowledged that the strategy did not produce the desired results but was quick to point out that there had been an increase in the number of products produced in the NES prioritised sectors, especially oilseeds and manufacturers sectors.
“It is our expectation that, as time goes, the underlying objective of the NES will be met if efforts continue to be undertaken aiming at correcting the structural trade imbalance.
“It is critical that the challenges identified in the implementation of NES 1 will be addressed in the successor NES. The new strategy from 2019 to 2022 should, therefore, come as a result of an in-depth review, evaluation and assessment of progress made in the implementation of the first NES,” Ndala said.