The merchandise trade balance—the difference between exports and imports—has widened to minus $204.6 million (K168.9 billion) in March 2022, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) figures show.
During the previous month, the merchandise trade balance was recorded at $140.4 million (minus K115.9 billion).
In its recently published March 2022 Monthly Economic Report, RBM said the outturn was on account of a decrease in exports by 45.2 percent ($18.0 million) to $39.9 million (K32.8 billion), attributed to the decrease in tobacco exports.
Reads the report in part: “Specifically, tobacco exports declined to $8.4 million [K7 billion] in March 2022 from $27.5 million [K22 billion] in February 2022, due to seasonal factors in the lean period.”
Meanwhile, imports increased by 14.7 percent ($35.9 million) to $244.5 million (K201.7 billion) in the month following increases in fuels, vehicles and fertiliser.
National Working Group on Trade and Policy chairperson Frederick Changaya earlier observed that the economy imports more value-added goods and services while it exporting commodities and cheap labour, which widens the trade gap.
He said: “We need economic policies and policy instruments which would diversify the Malawi economy away from rain-fed agriculture to economic activities that have increasing returns, rising wage rates and growing output.”