Malawi exports to India have more than doubled over the past two years despite imports being on the higher side, creating a negative trade balance, figures have shown.
Data from International Trade Centre (ITC), a subsidiary organisation of the World Trade Centre (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), show that exports increased from $31.7 million (about K23 billion) in 2015 to $67.5 million (about K50 billion) last year.
On the other hand, imports from India declined from $243.1 million (K178 billion) to $177.7 million (K130 billion) during the same period, according to ITC figures.
Despite the wide negative trade balance, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Principal Secretary Cliff Chiunda has chosen to look at the positive side, saying rising exports is an indication of potential growth for Malawi’s exports.
“Malawi and India have over time continued to enjoy an increasingly cordial and business environment. Even figures show that India is one country where we are exporting a lot of goods.
“I was in India recently and we met senior government officials who assured us that we can export as much pigeon peas as we want because the market is huge,” he said on the sidelines of a media briefing to announce the first-ever meeting between Malawi and Indian investors in Lilongwe on Friday.
Chiunda said the two countries will soon sign a memorandum of understanding to enable Malawi to continue exporting more pigeon peas to India.
He said despite India having numerous investments in the country, they are not as strong and transformational as in other countries.
“We have big Indian multinationals such as Tata and Mahindra among others, but they have small representation in Malawi. It is important that the two countries work closely to unlock the bottlenecks that impinge investment, growth and expansion of Indian businesses in Malawi,” said Chiunda.
Indian High Commissioner Suresh Kumar Menon said the Malawi-India Business meet is an initiative by the two countries to bring on one platform businesses from the two countries.
The event will comprise officials from Export and Import (Exim) Bank of India, who will speak on the role of the bank in project financing and how Indian companies can make use of their presence in Malawi.
Apart from Exim Bank, other Indian representatives will include officials from Eicher and Ashok Leyland as well as an Indian hydropower firm who will explore hydropower potential in Malawi.
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) chief executive officer Clement Kumbemba in an interview said they will use the occasion to sell some of the bankable projects.