Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has said while trade balance tilts against the country in absolute terms, it continues to pursue a number of policies and strategies to narrow the trade gap.
In a written response on Friday, the ministry’s spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the policies include the review of the Malawi National Export Strategy I and the design of a successor strategy, the National Export Strategy II, which will run from 2019 to 2023.
He said: “The main focus is to build the export readiness of Malawian exporters and grow the number of products being exported and that can favourably compete with foreign products in the domestic market.
“Our focus will also be on developing regional and global value chains, promoting entrepreneurship with emphasis on micro, small and medium enterprises and women and youth entrepreneurs as well as addressing critical enablers and cross-cutting issues related to exports such as energy, transport, market intelligence and trade facilitation.”
Msokera was reacting to official figures from the National Statistical Office (NSO) in a story published in Business Review last Thursday indicating that the country recorded a trade deficit of K1.26 trillion in 2017 against K1.19 trillion in 2018, representing a six percent decline.
He said despite the negative trade balance, the country registered a 24 percent export growth against four percent increase in imports.
Among the items that recorded significant positive export earnings in 2018 are tobacco, coffee, edible fruits, nuts, tea and apparel, according to NSO.
Malawi has during the review period experienced improved macroeconomic stability since 2017, characterised by a stable exchange rate and readily available foreign exchange, low inflation rates and declining interest rates.
Earlier, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said despite set strategies to reduce trade imbalance, government has paid no attention to the private sector for interventions which could help create an enabling environment.
He observed that in recent years, government has failed to promote manufacturing, to spur export-led economic growth.