YANDE SYAMPEYO, Bulawayo
PRESIDENT Lungu says trade and investment relations between Zambia and Zimbabwe have strengthened over the years with Zambiaâ€™s exports to its southern neighbour exceeding US$1.3 billion in 2010.
The President said over the same period, imports from Zimbabwe into Zambia were above US$486 million.
â€œIn terms of investments, the two countries have witnessed private sector players from both countries investing in both Zambia and Zimbabwe,â€ Mr Lungu said.
The President said this here yesterday when he officially opened the 56th Zimbabwe Trade Fair held under the theme: â€˜Stimulating Trade, Seizing Opportunities to Accelerate Growthâ€™.
The President observed that since time immemorial, the two countries have worked together in the implementation of various important projects such as the construction and management of Kariba Dam and establishment of a one-stop border post at Chirundu border, which was the first of its kind in Africa.
Mr Lungu also cited the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference (UNWTO) in 2013 as one of the major partnerships between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
â€œThis trade fair should be viewed as a celebration that has continually provided a platform for organisations to interact, create business partnerships and promote trade and investment in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
He also said the theme of the trade fair is timely as it comes at a time when both countries need to seize various opportunities to accelerate economic growth.
Mr Lungu said both Zambia and Zimbabwe need to implement measures to add value to resources they are endowed with.
â€œWe need to co-exist and learn from each other regardless of oneâ€™s ethnicity orÂ country of origin and we need to perfect the art of whatever we do to seize the various business opportunities and accelerate economic growth in the spirit of Ubuntu,â€ he said
President Lungu directed Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe to work closely with her Zimbabwean counterpart to ensure the Victoria Falls-Livingstone one-stop border post, which was declared by late President Sata during the official opening of the UNWTO conference in 2013, is operationalised.
â€œSimilarly,Â I would like to urge all our border agencies to complement the efforts ofÂ our private sector , in particular our small and medium entrepreneurs and ensure that trade between our two countries flows smoothly,â€ President Lungu said.
Earlier, President Lungu and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe toured stands at the trade fair.
Some of the stands they toured included the Zambian embassy, Grain Marketing Board, Shoepack and Company, Zimtrade and ZANU-PF.
Mr Lungu and Mr Mugabe were received with cheers from the crowd upon arrival at the main arena for the official opening.
Mr Lungu was accorded a Presidential salute, a Guard of Honour and a fly-past by the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
Mr Lungu said he will ensure Zambiaâ€™s participation in the trade fair is heightened.
The President also directed Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba to look into the issue of Uni-Visa between the two countries.
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) chairperson Bekhitemba Nkomo said he is pleased with the high quality of exhibition at this yearâ€™s trade fair.
Mr Nkomo said the trade fair has attracted 19 foreign exhibitors from across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the United States.
Zimbabweâ€™s Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha said the country was honoured and gratified with the presence of President Lungu.
â€œWe receive the President of Zambia with love. We are honoured to have a great man in our midst to grace the trade fair,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has described the just ended Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit in Harare, Zimbabwe as successful, KELVIN CHONGO reports from Lusaka.
The President said this at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport last night on his return from Zimbabwe where he also officially opened the International Trade Fair.
Mr Lungu said the concern of xenophobia in South Africa was addressed adequately and the South African Government has assured SADC member countries that it will take care of foreigners in that country.
â€œIt is about the economy of our countries. If you live in someoneâ€™s house you need to follow and live the way they do,â€ he said.
President Lungu said that it is clear that SADC member state have to up their countriesâ€™ economies so as to stop migration in the region.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Bulawayo