Although Malawi managed to export goods worth $37 million (about K26.64 billion) as of October 2016 to the United States (US) through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), the total level of exports through the market window seems to be on the decline.
According to the information on Agoa website, the Malawi’s exports have been showing a downward spiral in the total exports, with figures showing that the country exported goods worth $66 million in 2014, $61 million in 2015 and the $37 million up to September 2016.
Topping the African exporters list to the US are Nigeria ($2.8 billion), South Africa ($2.3 billion), Angola ($1.6 billion), Chad ($613 million) and Kenya ($325 million).
However, Malawi is in the top 14 of the exporting countries beating neighbouring Tanzania, which currently falls on position 15.
Malawi also tops in the textiles exports through the act, according to Agoa.
Agoa is one of the many strategies by the US government to promote exports from African countries.
The Agoa trade agreement gives duty free benefits to selected African States to export to the US.
The objectives of Agoa also include the expansion and deepening of the trade and investment relationship with sub-Saharan Africa, to encourage economic growth and development as well as regional integration, and to help facilitate the integration of Sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy.
One of the companies exporting through the Act, Win-Win garments said lack of proper transport infrastructure negatively affects the company’s operations, as exports and imports take longer than they normally should.
The Malawi government has in the past been on the quest to push exports as a way of reducing the trade gap which is stubbornly high. Malawi is also consistently hit with acute foreign exchange shortages.
As one way of boosting the textile industry, in 2015, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) unveiled plans to set up a clothing and textile incubator (CTI) in Blantyre where they install industrial machines for use by small businesses.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism is spearheading the project, which is sponsored by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) under the technical cooperations facility, with financial support from the European Union (EU).
The ministry’s spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi earlier said the initiative is helpful because it is one way of scaling up government support for SMEs, particularly those in the textile industry.n