Malawiâ€™s Minister of Industry and Trade John Bande has said he is optimistic that the newly-formulated National Export Strategy (NES) will narrow the gap between the countryâ€™s imports and exports.
In an interview on Monday, Bande said the strategy has a component of diversification which, if supported by political will, can help expand the countryâ€™s export base.
“The gap between imports and exports is currently big and we hope to encourage diversification once the strategy is in place,” he said.
Trade experts have over the years blamed challenges in the growth of the export sector to poor entrepreneurial practices, lack of access to affordable credit, lack of information on international markets and lack of innovativeness among local exporters, among other factors.
Such challenges have led the country to incur huge trade deficits which in 2011 was estimated at K107.9 billion (about $4.3m), according to trade statistics in the 2012 government annual economic report.
The minister said the strategy will also ensure traceability of export proceeds from abroad and curb undervaluation of export invoices by some exporters.
“The strategy will tackle issues of transferring pricing and the undervaluation of exports which cause the country to lose a lot of foreign earnings,” said Bande.
The aim of the strategy is to increase the value of existing exports and diversify into new exports by increasing the amount and quality of investments in the target sectors and industries while enhancing a pro-business environment.
He added that the strategy will help nurture the ability of small and medium enterprises and cooperatives to export more.
The export strategy, according to Bande, will also enhance market access for Malawi exports and it is also going to be mainstreamed in the second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS).
During the NES symposium in Blantyre last week, Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Matthews Chikankheni noted the need for policies that are consistent with export orientation as well as the need for re-orientation of relevance institutions, for the strategy to be successful.