U.S. Relations With Malawi

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
July 19, 2018

More information about Malawi is available on the Malawi Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Malawi in 1964, following its full independence from the United Kingdom. Malawi was a one-party state from 1966 to 1994. The transition to multi-party democracy in 1994 strengthened bilateral relations between the United States and Malawi and the two countries have worked together to advance health, education, agriculture, energy, and environmental stewardship in Malawi.

U.S. and Malawian views on the necessity of economic and political stability in southern Africa generally coincide. Malawi advocates peaceful solutions to the region’s problems through negotiation and works to achieve these objectives in a variety of regional and international fora. The United States and Malawi have a long-standing and close military-to-military relationship. With U.S. support, Malawi has contributed nine battalions to UN Peacekeeping Operations in Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2017, the United States and Malawi hosted the 5th annual African Land Forces Summit.

U.S. Assistance to Malawi

In FY 2017, U.S. bilateral foreign assistance in Malawi totaled $197.7 million (targeting health, agriculture, education, environmental, and governance.) The United States seeks to promote health and medical service delivery; improve food security and agriculture-based economic growth; reduce poverty; preserve Malawi’s unique biodiversity and its ability to mitigate climate change; strengthen public and private institutions for better delivery of social services; empower the private sector and civil society; promote economic growth through the revitalization of Malawi’s power sector; and advance democracy, human rights, and good governance. U.S. partnerships with the Government of Malawi, civil society, and other donors aim to strengthen and buttress the government’s efforts to overcome constraints to meet the basic needs of its citizens, support regional stability, and help the government remain a responsible actor on the international stage. For example, through its health programs, U.S. government support has helped reduce HIV incidence by 76% from 2003 to 2016. U.S. government assistance also promotes family planning awareness and services in Malawi, and the fertility rate (births per woman) has decreased from 5.7 in 2010 to 4.4 in 2016. In addition to bilateral foreign assistance, U.S. government support helped to avoid hunger related deaths during the 2016-2017 El Nino-induced drought, when Malawi experienced the largest humanitarian food insecurity crisis in its history with 40 percent of Malawians depending on humanitarian assistance to survive. In FY 2016, the United States provided more than $101 million in humanitarian assistance for Malawi. The USAID-supported National Reading Program assists the Ministry of Education to improve teacher training and provide textbooks in all 5,415 primary schools in Malawi to significantly increase reading skills and comprehension among early primary school students. Malawi is also in the final year of implementing a $350.7 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact aimed at improving environmental management, expanding access to electricity, reducing the cost of doing business, and increasing value-added production. From 2015 to 2016 (most recent data available), approximately 300 Malawian students participated in education programs in the United States.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Malawi is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. U.S. exports to Malawi totaled $40 million in 2016, and included pharmaceutical products, small electronics, and donated goods, including agricultural products. U.S. imports from Malawi totaled $75 million in 2016, and included tobacco, tea, sugar, macadamia nuts, coffee, and apparel.

While U.S. investment is modest, U.S. companies have invested in the agriculture, leisure and tourism, retail, and power sectors. The United States has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which Malawi is a member.

Malawi's Membership in International Organizations

Malawi and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Malawi is also a member of the International Criminal Court, but has signed a bilateral immunity agreement with the United States.

Bilateral Representation

The current U.S. Ambassador to Malawi is Virginia Palmer; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Malawi maintains an embassy in the United States at 2408 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202-721-0270).

More information about Malawi is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Malawi Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Malawi Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Malawi Page
History of U.S. Relations With Malawi
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Millennium Challenge Corporation: Malawi
Travel Information