KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
ZAMBIA is finalising discussions with Malawi, Namibia and Mozambique aimed at establishing one-stop border posts (OSBP) to create an efficient environment for trade facilitation and reduction in the cost of doing business.
And media personnel have been challenged to understand the World Trade Organisation (WTO) processes and its trade facilitation agreements (TFA) to effectively inform the public.
Speaking yesterday during a media sensitisation workshop on the WTO trade facilitation reforms, Ministry of Commerce and Trade Permanent Secretary Mushuma Mulenga said Zambia is uniquely positioned in the region as a land linked country sharing borders with eight strategic neighbours.
Mr Mulenga said the country is a key transit route for imports and exports in the region and other transport corridors.
“In view of this strategic position, it is important for Zambia to foster trade facilitation reforms and create an enabling environment for facilitation of trade and cost reduction in Zambia,” Mr Mulenga said in a speech read on his behalf by the ministry’s director of foreign trade, Bessie Chelemu.
“Currently we share OSBPs with Zimbabwe (Chirundu), Tanzania (Nakonde) and the newly launched Kazungula rail bridge with Botswana. We are also having discussions with Malawi for Mwami, Mozambique for Chanida and Namibia for Katima Mulilo border posts.”
He said Zambia reaffirmed its commitments made at multilateral, continental, regional and bilateral level-in line with agreed protocols on trade facilitation.
Mr Mulenga said Zambia ratified the WTO TFA in 2015 it entered into force on February 22, 2017.
He said trade facilitation reforms being promoted in Zambia are meant to reduce or eliminate border control inefficiencies that result in increased costs.
“These inefficiencies negatively impact trade, especially, the small businesses and cross-border traders, who do not have the same resources to meet the burdensome controls that result in increased delays and can have a direct detrimental effect on the value of the goods and the financial well-being of the companies imports and exports of goods,” Mr Mulenga said.
Nevertheless, Mr Mulenga said it has come to the ministry’s attention that awareness programmes conducted have not been sufficient to enhance knowledge on the benefits of the WTO TFA to the public.
And in a virtual address, International Finance Corporation of the World Bank country representative for Malawi and Zambia Madalo Minofu said information sharing is important as it is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of people.
“That is why when the concept of media sensitisation was floated by the ministry to us we did not hesitate to partner with them on this workshop. I wish to encourage you the media to increase media coverage of trade facilitation reforms in Zambia. This way, the reforms will be brought closer to the Zambian public,” she said.
KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka