Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 2/22/2017
  • Malawi is one of the poorest nations on earth, with over 17 million inhabitants and a population growth rate estimated at approximately 3%.  Annual per capita Gross National Income (GNI) is $250.
  • Agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy, accounting for about one-third of GDP and almost 75% of export earnings (tobacco accounts for 50% of exports).  The agricultural sector employs nearly 65% of those in formal employment, and directly or indirectly supports an estimated 85% of the population (including subsistence farming).  Tobacco, tea, and sugar are Malawi’s principal exports, together generating over 80% of export earnings.
  • Malawi’s industrial base is very small and developing slowly.  There are a few factories processing sugar, tea, tobacco, rubber, and other agro-products.
  • Malawi has a relatively free investment environment, but poor infrastructure (particularly unreliable electricity and water), high transport costs, and bureaucratic hurdles tend to inhibit investors.
  • Malawi has a fairly independent, albeit overburdened, judiciary that derives its procedures from English common law.
  • In May 2014, Malawi held presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections.  Power transferred peacefully for the fourth time in the young democracy’s history with the election of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Peter Mutharika as Malawi’s new president.

Trade Statistics

Malawi

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Total Exports (USD million f.o.b)

964

908

1467

1,388

1,411

1,491

Total Imports (USD million )

1671

1687

2590

2,753

2,877

2,791

U.S. Exports to Malawi (USD million F.A.S)

37

66

64

55

51

36

U.S. Imports from Malawi (USD million)

71

65

66

73

67

61

Sources: Malawi trade data from Malawi Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development and Bilateral trade data from U.S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c7970.html

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Malawi Trade Development and Promotion