Import and Export Snapshot for Malawi


According to the World Trade Organization, trade represented 57.7% of Malawi’s GDP from 2004-2006.  In 2008, merchandise exports totaled $770 million while merchandise imports totaled over $1.6 billion.  Also in 2008, commercial services exports totaled $80 million while commercial services imports totaled $222 million.

Note:  The information in this snapshot can help identify trade factors that may impact investments in Malawi.  For example, the higher the Trade-to-GDP ratio the greater sensitivity Malawi’s economy might have to global economic, trade, and financial fluctuations. Also, changes in economies or industries of key trading partners may trigger changes in Malawi’s economy and industries.

Major Imports and Exports

According to the International Trade Centre, the top five export categories for Malawi in 2008, along with percentage of total exports, were:

  1. Tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes (67.1%)
  2. Sugars and sugar confectionery (6%)
  3. Coffee, tea, mate, and spices (4.8%)
  4. Cotton (2.7%)
  5. Oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruit, etc. (2.4%)

According to the International Trade Centre, the top five import categories for Malawi in 2008, along with percentage of total imports, were:

  1. Fertilizers (16.7%)
  2. Vehicles other than railway (16.1%)
  3. Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, etc. (9.8%)
  4. Boilers, machinery, nuclear reactors, etc. (6.3%)
  5. Printed books, newspapers, pictures, etc. (4.8%)

Major Trading Partners

The top three countries to which Malawi exports merchandise, along with percentage of exports, are:

  1. South Africa (14.2%)
  2. Egypt (9.8%)
  3. Zimbabwe (8.6%)

The top three countries which import merchandise to Malawi, along with percentage of imports, are:

  1. South Africa (41.5%)
  2. China (7.3%)
  3. India (6.1%)

Sources:  World Trade Organization, International Trade Centre, and The World Factbook

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