Despite having a ready market for handicrafts and other light manufacturing, Malawi is yet to utilise the sectors’ potential to increase its exports to the United States (US) through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
The US Trade and Investment with sub-Saharan Africa: Recent Developments Report indicates that Malawi high-priority industries and products include the agricultural and food processing, textile, apparel, footwear and leather products and jewellery.
Only Madagascar, Lesotho and Botswana have completed national Agoa strategies in all the high-priority industries and products.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said in an interview on Tuesday that local industries lack productive capacity to fully utilise the Agoa market.
He said: “There is nothing that we are doing to support our industries. Light manufacturing has the potential but government does not come in to help.
“Industry has shrunk because of little government intervention. Even in areas which could have benefitted from government contracts like construction, only few companies are engaged.
“Countries that are doing well like Ethiopia and China have had government intervention in the private sector.”
The National Agoa Response Strategy for Malawi seeks to increase exports from Malawi to the Agoa trade window by about 20 percent in the next five years.
The strategy provides a comprehensive plan for increasing exports from Malawi to the US market under the Agoa non-reciprocal unilateral trade preference programme.
Malawi’s contribution to the Agoa in the past two years has remained static at 0.15 percent global share in the trade act, which has 164 members, according to the 2019 Trade Policy Agenda and 2018 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Programme Office document. An official from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism official earlier said exports have been declining because the country’s production levels are below capacity