Consultations opened today in Lilongwe, Malawi on the design of a new strategy to boost the country’s exports in regional and international markets.
The new strategy, to be developed with Commonwealth technical assistance, will cover the period from 2020 to 2025, building on key lessons learned from the national export strategy of 2013-2018.
The workshop from 9 - 10 October, organised by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in partnership with the Commonwealth, will gather valuable inputs from stakeholders to help shape the new strategy. Participants include government officials, business owners, bankers, academia and trade unions.
High level discussions will also focus export-led growth and building Malawi’s competitiveness in the regional markets.
The keynote speaker, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Ibrahim Salim Bagus said: “We cannot continue to do business as usual and expect different results. There is a need for a complete overhaul in the way we conduct our business as a sector if we are indeed going to meet our objectives in the new export strategy.”
Malawi faces a significant trade deficit, importing about twice the value of goods as it exports. More than 70 per cent of the population relies on subsistence farming, with main exports being tobacco and tea.
A review of the previous strategy (2013-2018) found that Malawi was able to strengthen its oil seed sub-sector, but broadly, exports lagged behind imports with its export basket remaining narrow and market diversification remaining slow.
Building on these findings, the consultations this week will focus on issues affecting trade competitiveness, priority sectors for export development and lead markets for increased trade. They will also look at solutions to overcome challenges facing these sectors.
Commonwealth Trade Adviser Olayinka Bandele said: “The Commonwealth is very committed to supporting member countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including through trade. We look forward to working with the Government of Malawi on a new strategy that will overcome key hurdles to growth and help transform the economy.”
Outcomes of the discussions will support the design of a National Export Strategy and Action Plan for 2020-2025, which will be finalised later in the year.