The United Kingdom (UK) has urged Malawi to improve its trade performance following revelations that it is failing to maximise opportunities available in the UK.
British High Commission Charge’ d’Affaires Gary Leslie said this on the sidelines of the commemoration of 70 years of the Commonwealth.
He said UK and Malawi have the advantage of the Commonwealth market and trade percentages are 19 percent higher than non-Commonwealth countries, but emphasised the need to get more balanced trade relationship with Malawi.
Said Leslie: “At the moment, Malawi imports more than it exports to the UK and I would like to see the balance reduced. I would like to see Malawi exporting more to the UK and similarly the UK exporting more to Malawi.
“The products that Malawi produces are not necessarily those which are in demand in the UK, so there is need for diversification in the Malawian economy that would make it more attractive to the UK. There is greater need for Malawi to diversify its exports to the UK.”
He said, so far, the UK is contributing to the country’s tourism sector as tourists come to Malawi because they love the hospitality of the people and the beauty of the country.
Information from Commonwealth shows that last year, trade between Malawi and UK was valued at 59 million pounds (about K53.5 billion).
UK-Malawi Trade Group update shows Malawi’s exports to the UK are highly concentrated with three agricultural products,namely black tea, cane sugar and tobacco, comprising 85 percent of total exports.
It says exports are overwhelmingly concentrated in mostly unprocessed agricultural goods.
Within the dried leguminous vegetables category, pigeon peas are the main commodity followed by peas, mungo beans and broad beans.
The largest exports within the other categories are whole peppercorns, flour (from nuts), rice, coffee and cane molasses.
On the other hand, UK mostly exports to Malawi printed books, vehicles, machinery and mechanical appliances, boilers, electrical machinery, television image and sound recorders and reproducers and parts and accessories.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira recently said Malawi is failing to seize existing export markets due to emerging challenges that are factors of production such as intermittent power supply and capital.
“If you want to broaden export base, you need to look at the production of high-value products and these can be done when you have adequate electricity which we have not had,” he said. n