Malawi’s total exports to the rest of the world—with tobacco and uranium as prominent merchandise—are expected to rise by about nine percent to K660 billion ($1.5 billion) this year, according to authorities.
Statistics provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further indicate that predominantly Malawi will export K174 billion ($394.9 million) of tobacco and will fetch K71 billion ($161.6 million) from uranium. However, the uranium exports may be revised downwards due to the recent suspension of Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga.
Paladin Africa Limited on February 7 announced the suspension of production at its Kayelekera Mine in Karonga due to continuing depressed price for uranium and unsustainable cash demand to maintain the loss making mine.
According to the statistics provided by the fund, the country will demand about K880 billion ($2 billion) from the rest of the world, a nine percent jump compared to last year.
Apart from fertilisers, which are one of Malawi’s leading imports, the country will import petroleum products including diesel and petrol valued at $177 million.
But although both imports and exports will jump by same margins, comparatively imports—foreign-produced goods consumed locally—will outstrip the outward going merchandise.
But Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi earlier argued that the relatively low exports compared to imports is not due to stagnant exports but rising imports.
He noted that the country’s biggest problem is that we have a big appetite for imported goods which has been responsible for the rising imports.
He noted that the country rolled out the Buy Malawi Campaign which is aimed at encouraging consumption of locally produced goods because in the current trade regime an economy cannot ban imports.
And commenting on the National Export Strategy (NES) which was launched in 2012, Nkombezi added that the policy will not bear results instantly because it is a long term programme.
He added that the NES is aimed at putting in place systems that will encourage exports over the period noting that so far, the implementation of the strategy is on track.
The NES targets to raise exports as a share of imports from 51.5 per cent in 2010 to 75.7 percent in 2017 and 93.4 per cent in 2022.
It prioritises three export-oriented clusters for diversification: oil seeds products, sugar cane and manufacturers and includes support plans to stakeholder efforts in other major existing clusters including tobacco, mining, tea, tourism and services.