Business

Finland promoting intra-Africa trade

TRYNESS MBALE, Lusaka
FINLAND has contributed to Zambia’s new product and packaging standards through the international trade centre which was signed with Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) to boost intra-African trade, Finnish ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen says.
Mr Olkkonen said the promotion of regional integration has the potential to contribute to the growth of the country’s economy.
He said recently when he presented a letter of appointment as representative of Finland to the COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya.
“Finland appreciates enormously the possibilities and potential regional integration can have in boosting a country’s economy and well-being. Finland is supporting information technology communication [and] promoting intra-regional trade with a project that is concentrating in mango, honey and spice produce.
“In Zambia, the project has contributed to new product and packaging standards…There was a delegation from Zambia to study export-opportunities in Finland and study value-chains in Finnish markets last January,” he said.
He said Finland is an economy that is highly dependent on exports with its main markets being Europe and has been keen to integrate with the European Union (EU) which has resulted in its economic growth.
Mr Olkkonen said Finland also supports the development of the private sector in Zambia.
He also said Finland believes that the current economic growth witnessed in many African countries will continue to provide opportunities to local, regional, continental and international trade.
He said Africa has the potential for a more strong economic growth through closer regional cooperation and integration, since intra-African trade still remains small in comparison to overall trade figures.
“Finland wants to be part of the cooperation, both as a governmental partner and through partnerships in the private sector. There is potential that could be promoted further. COMESA, through its huge regional reach, is well placed and in fact indispensable in this endeavour,” he said.

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