Malawi trade with Zimbabwe has for the past two years been increasing, skewing in favour of the former,ZimTrade figures have shown.
According to ZimTrade, while Lilongwe has seen an increase in imports of goods and services from Harareon one hand there has been a surge in total exports to Zimbabwe, on the other hand narrowing the trade gap in the process.
Government, through the Ministry of Industry and Trade has since called upon the private sector ‘not to slacken’ but scale up the exportation of goods to all the regions in the continent and beyond.
According to the statistics, published on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBS) website this week, trade between the two countries took a turn from 2010 when Malawi exports to Zimbabwe hit $43.9 million while imports fell to $34.6 million.
In 2011, Malawi’s exports to Zimbabwe hit a record high of $88.8 million against imports estimated at only $19.6 million, widening the trade gap further in the process.
Last year, according to the figures, although trade declined between the two countries, Malawi had export receipts of goods and services worth $43.9 million while importing a meagre $5.8 million.
Most of the products consumed in Malawi from Zimbabwe include cement, packaging paper, oil seed and steel, according to ZBC website.
Minister of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said in an interview on Thursday that the increase in the export trend to Zimbabwe signals that the country is on the right path to narrow the overall trade gap with the rest of the world.
Said Nkombezi: “It has been proved in recent times that trade is the way to go. Increased exports mean more foreign exchange earnings which also means the country has a brighter future for job creation and foreign exchange generation.”
He also said it is the wish of government to enhance production of goods and services to the rest of the world in tandem with the National Export Strategy (NES).
During the Zimbabwe trade fair held last week, President Joyce Banda bemoaned low trade volume between Malawi and Zimbabwe which she said needs to be reversed.
“This trade pattern shows that there is a need for our countries to work diligently in order to enhance trade flows between ourselves,” said the President.
Banda also urged Zimbabwe and Malawi to ensure that the trade agreement works to the advantage of entrepreneurs from both countries.
Recently, Malawi and Zimbabwe signed a bilateral trade agreement and discussed trade and economic issues within the framework of the Joint Permanent Commission and Co-operation.