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Malawi Economy Profile 2017

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Economy - overviewLandlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, limited connectivity to the region and the world, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 80% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports.

The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program but recent increases in domestic borrowing mean that debt servicing in 2016 exceeded the levels prior to HIPC debt relief. President MUTHARIKA launched the Public Financial Management and Public Sector reform programs upon taking office in 2014 to increase accountability following the 2013 “Cashgate” scandal.

Heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, with corn being the staple crop, Malawi’s economy was hit hard by the El Nino-driven drought in 2015-16. The drought also slowed economic activity, led to two consecutive years of declining economic growth, and contributed to high inflation rates. Following a successful humanitarian response in 2016-2017 providing food assistance to 6.7 million people - 40% of the population - and increased transparency by agricultural parastatals, the economy has stabilized and inflation is dropping.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$21.2 billion (2016 est.)
$20.65 billion (2015 est.)
$20.08 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$5.474 billion (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate2.7% (2016 est.)
2.8% (2015 est.)
5.7% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,100 (2016 est.)
$1,100 (2015 est.)
$1,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving-4.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
3% of GDP (2015 est.)
3.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 75.1%
government consumption: 17.4%
investment in fixed capital: 11.9%
investment in inventories: 2.6%
exports of goods and services: 42.6%
imports of goods and services: -49.6% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 32%
industry: 17.5%
services: 50.5% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line50.7% (2010 est.)
Labor force7 million (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 64.1%
industry: 6.7%
services: 29.2% (2013 est.)
Unemployment rateNA%
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 8.6%
male: 9.1%
female: 8.2% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.2%
highest 10%: 37.5% (2010 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index46.1 (2010)
39.9 (2004)
Budgetrevenues: $1.03 billion
expenditures: $1.247 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues18.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-4% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt61.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
54.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)21.8% (2016 est.)
21.9% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate24% (25 November 2016)
27% (July 2016)
Commercial bank prime lending rate42.88% (December 2016 est.)
44.9% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$550.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$512.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$1.481 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$1.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$711.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$724.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$796.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$936.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.341 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Agriculture - productstobacco, sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sorghum, pulses, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, coffee; cattle, goats
Industriestobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
Industrial production growth rate4% (2016 est.)
Current Account Balance-$849 million (2016 est.)
-$605 million (2015 est.)
Exports$1.277 billion (2016 est.)
$1.278 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiestobacco 55%, dried legumes (8.8%), sugar (6.7%), tea (5.7%), cotton (2%), peanuts, coffee, soy (2015 est.)
Exports - partnersBelgium 16.1%, Zimbabwe 12.2%, India 6.7%, US 6.1%, South Africa 6.1%, Russia 5.7%, Germany 4.7% (2015)
Imports$2.578 billion (2016 est.)
$2.607 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfood, petroleum products, semi-manufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
Imports - partnersSouth Africa 26%, China 17.5%, India 12.6%, Zambia 7.6%, Tanzania 6.3% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$605.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$693.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$1.921 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.715 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesMalawian kwachas (MWK) per US dollar -
671.6 (2016 est.)
499.6 (2015 est.)
499.6 (2014 est.)
424.9 (2013 est.)
249.11 (2012 est.)
Fiscal year1 July - 30 June

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017

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