Identifying Malawi’s export potential (en)
Malawi has the potential to spark dynamic, trade-led growth and to move up the value chain into higher value-added products. In 2016, the country exported goods for more than $979 million. Its main exports, excluding tobacco, were black tea ($75.4m), raw cane sugar ($49.3m) and dried or shelled pigeon peas ($44.4m) of which Malawi is the third largest exporter in the world. These products were primarily sold to South Africa, Italy, the US and India.
While growth in Malawi’s traditional exports has been faltering over the recent decade, Malawi has significant untapped export potential across diverse products. By tapping into its significant unexplored export potential estimated at $333.5 mn, Malawi can improve its trade performance and create new opportunities for its local businesses.
Regional integration will be a crucial factor in realizing Malawi’s potential, as almost 40% of its export potential lies with neighbouring countries and fellow member of the Southern Africa Development Community.
The products with the greatest untapped potential for Malawi include tea, nuts, meat products, sugar, oilseeds, pulses and wood products. Exploiting its potential In traditional exports alone, including in raw cane sugar, black tea and bird eggs, could open the door to $134.1m in additional export revenue. In addition to these traditional exports, Malawi can also explore new opportunities to diversify its exports into new products including cashew nuts in shell, cocoa beans and bananas, products that use production capabilities similar to those for the products they already export.
Malawi also has the potential to move up the value chain towards higher value-added products. Malawian producers can find new export opportunities by adding value to their existing exports. For instance, sunflower oil and soybean oil could be great opportunities for adding value to locally grown oilseeds.
Nevertheless, realizing these opportunities for export growth requires timely, robust and targeted market analysis.
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