TRYNESS MBALE, Lusaka
MINISTER of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe says the bilateral agreement signed between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a significant achievement on both sides as the two countries strive to enhance trade and improve the living standards of its citizens.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said over the years, trade between Zambia and DRC has grown.
In case of Zambia and in terms of imports from the DRC, it has risen to US$1.8 billion in 2013 from US$487 million in 2009.
She said similarly, exports to DRC have increased to US$1.2 billion in 2014 from US$300 million in 2009.
â€œWe have every reason as countries that are richly endowed with natural resource, yet classified among the least developed, to pursue initiatives aimed at enhancing economic growth and development prospects.
â€œYou agree with me that trade is among the most effective avenues that can bring about tangible results to the economies of the two countries and citizens,â€ she said at the signing ceremony recently.
She said the major products traded include metal-based products, agricultural produce and some manufactured products.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said the two countries have concentrated in primary commodities but there is need to start adding value to raw materials for trade to effectively contribute to economic development.
She said the agreement offers great scope and opportunity for both countries to maximise production in value addition.
She said value addition to raw materials is consistent with the aspiration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to designate industrialisation and job creation in the two sub-regional economic groupings as priority number one.
Meanwhile, she said Zambia and DRC have signed an agreement to ensure that Kasumbalesa border post becomes a one-stop border post by November to improve efficiency of service delivery.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) says the bilateral agreement Zambia and the DRC will result in increased manufacturing and, ultimately, exports.
ZAM chief executive officer Maybin Nsupila said DRC remains an important market for Zambia, especially for non-traditional goods in both SADC and COMESA.
TRYNESS MBALE, Lusaka