Zambia President Lungu calls for mutual trade deals with South Africa
President Edgar Lungu has called for action towards addressing the trade imbalance between Zambia and South Africa.
President Lungu said trade between Zambia and South Africa had grown over the years as evidenced by its current value of US$3.8 billion.
He noted, however, that for many years now, the balance had always tilted in favour of South Africa, said to be to the tune of $2 billion.
“We have been talking about this for years. We must endeavour to remove unnecessary barriers and make it easier to export goods from both sides,” Mr Lungu said.
He said this yesterday at the Zambia-South Africa business forum in Lusaka.
The business forum was a follow-up to the one held in South Africa in December last year at which President Lungu requested to have the next forum held in Zambia.
The President said there was need to remove trade barriers on both sides to enable more Zambian companies operate in South Africa.
Mr Lungu said Zambia was committed to providing an environment that would encourage the private sector to expand.
He said the Government was committed to good governance and democracy.
Mr Lungu said good governance was key to providing an environment for commerce and industry to flourish.
He said policies were in place like economic diversification to turn Zambia into a land-linked country that would be a good business platform for Zambia and South African businesses.
Mr Lungu said South African businesses should take advantage of Zambia’s geographic position while Zambia should take advantage of South African ties with Europe and other regions to use it as a gateway to export Zambian products.
Mr Lungu said the forum should not end at discussions but should materialise into real trade, investments and jobs.
South African President Jacob Zuma said at the last forum, the two heads of State emphasised on the need to explore natural resources.
Mr Zuma said notable strides had been made in achieving what was discussed at the last forum.
A joint trade and investment committee was launched in September and a draft policy has been done.
Mr Zuma said there was need to increase activities in the manufacturing sector.
Mr Zuma said South Africa was committed to fostering intra-Africa trade in order to boost economies and would host an investment conference for Zambia in November.
He said there were still investment and trade opportunities unexplored between Zambia and South Africa.
Mr Zuma said the private sector in both countries should be creative in order to penetrate unknown markets.
“This year we celebrate the great hero of South Africa Oliver Tambo who would not have been content with merely achieving freedom and democracy but also economic partnerships and achievements,” he said.
Zambia Association of Manufaturers (ZAM) president Rosetta Chabala said that the private sector in Zambia was ready to act in order to address the trade imbalance of over $2 billion in favour of South Africa.
Ms Chabala said there was need for South Africa to relax some of the barriers, like the entry prerequisites and recognition of the Zambia Bureau of Standards by South Africa.
Representative of the South African business delegation Sandile Zungu said bilateral trade had grown but there was need to improve on the trade imbalance.
Mr Zungu said Zambia was the second largest destination for South Africa’s exports.
He said Zambia should formulate policies that should focus on regional market so that it takes advantage of having eight neighbours.
ZCCM-IH chief executive officer Anthony Kasolo said the commerce and industrial sectors of South Africa and Zambia were grateful that both Mr Zuma and Mr Lungu facilitated the forum through their consistent engagements.
Meanwhile, President Zuma and South Africa’s First Lady Bongekile Zuma visited the Embassy Park, the resting place of Zambia’s late presidents Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and Michael Sata.
Mr and Ms Zuma visited the mausoleum just after arriving in Zambia for a two-day State visit.