Zambia, Turkey should harness diplomatic, trade relations

TEMBO Benedict.

TURKEY President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Zambia is a perfect opportunity to review the two countries’ trade relations.Zambia and Turkey have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 2009, with the European country opening its embassy in Lusaka in 2011.
Zambia on the other hand opened the Ankara mission in 2014.
Trade between Zambia and Turkey stands at an amazing US$15 million, with Zambia’s imports from Turkey estimated at US$16,603,000.
Turkey imports from Zambia are at US$5.2 million, bringing the grand total to US$21.8 million.
This is by any means too small, hence the need to increase.
Turkey has about 200 of its citizens in Zambia who are helping grow our country’s economy in various sectors.
President Erdogan’s visit is a reciprocal as President Edgar Lungu was in that country during the inauguration ceremony.
Coming hardly two weeks after being inaugurated, President Erdogan’s trip has underscored his government’s desire to increase bilateral and trade relations with Zambia.
Both countries have a lot to learn and share from one another as they aspire to grow their economies.
The coming of President Erdogan is strategic as Zambia seeks to grow her economic diplomacy, more so that Turkey is a rising economic power.
Currently, Zambia exports mostly agricultural products and minerals while Turkey brings machinery.
There will be need for Zambia to tap into Turkey’s expertise and begin to manufacture some of the products locally and export them as finished products.
Turkey’s industries should take advantage of our raw materials endowment and set up manufacturing industries in Zambia.
While Zambia will use Turkey as a spring board to enter other markets with that country’s neighbours, that nation, too, could take advantage of our country’s geopolitical position in the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to make its presence felt.
Beyond trade, there is also need to explore cultural and sports ties for the benefit of the people in the two countries.
Zambia needs to deepen relations with Ankara as a pivot to economic diplomacy.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.

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