By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
World Bank Country Manager, Greg Toulmin, has said Malawi needs to consider managing administrative requirements for exporters to facilitate exports growth.
Toulmin was speaking recently in Lilongwe, on the sidelines of the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan launch.
The call comes as Malawi’s balance of trade remains structurally in deficit.
Malawi’s trade balance worsened to minus $525.1 million in the third quarter of 2018 from a deficit of $419.6 million in the second quarter. The position was higher than a deficit of $372.3 million recorded in the third quarter of 2017.
Toulmin said exporters require a conducive working environment to maximise capacity.
“The plan to reduce border agencies from 14 to five can really transform their [exporters] experience in terms of how easy it is to get goods out of the country.
“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, reducing number of border agencies and improve computerisation and automation of customs procedures,” Toulmin said.
However, the country continues to suffer from a negative trade balance due to insatiable appetite for foreign goods and continued reliance on imported inputs for production.
The main exports remain raw tobacco, sugar and tea with the main export destinations remaining the European Union (EU), Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The majority of the imports are from South Africa, the EU and China.
Speaking after launching the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Francis Kasaila, said the plan aims at mitigating challenges exporters are currently facing.
Kasaila said the challenges include lack of territorial access to the sea, isolation from major world markets and high cost of doing business.
“All these seriously constrain efforts to integrate into the regional and global trading system,” Kasaila said.
He urged stakeholders to help towards improving on the trade facilitation indices by identifying priorities from the action plan and develop a resource mobilisation strategy for financing activities
“I would also like to urge the cooperating partners to establish and consolidate one financing basket where resources could be pooled together to support implementation of the plan,” Kasaila said.
He indicated that the first aspect of the action plan will be to look at reducing cost of export as, currently, it is very expensive to export than to import.