CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka
MINISTER of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe says Zambia signed trade agreements with Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to provide for duty-free and quota-free market access of most goods produced in the country.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said during a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the agreements provide for duty-free and quota-free market access of most goods produced in the country.
â€œI am, therefore, delighted to announce to the Zambian people, the business community and exporters that Zambia now has trade agreements with both Angola and Congo,â€ Mrs Mwanakatwe said.
The minister said she signed the Angola-Zambia Bilateral Trade Agreement on January 21, 2016 in Angola.
She said Angolan Minister of Commerce Rosa Escorcio Pacavira de Matos signed for that country.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said the Angola-Zambia trade agreement includes a list of specific products that will be exempted from customs duty between both countries.
She said the agreement compliments other initiatives that are already underway such as the development of Lobito Corridor, which includes the revitalisation of the Banguela Railway line commissioned by President Lungu and is Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo dos Santos in February last year.
â€œWe are also in discussion with our counterparts in Angola on the possibility of establishing a dry port at Lobito. This should transform Zambiaâ€™s market access giving us access to the eastern seaboard. It will also potentially expand our utilisation of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiative, which until now has been less than our intended target,â€ Mrs Mwanakatwe said.
She said in the DRC, she held bilateral discussions with that countryâ€™s Minister of Trade Nefertiti Ngudianza Bayokisi Kisula on January 26, 2016 in Kinshasa.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said they met to finalise the product list which is an annex to the trade agreement that was signed on August 6 last year in Lusaka.
She said she highlighted the importance of streamlining activities at border crossings in order for the two countries to facilitate trade and maximise benefits from the trade agreements in their discussion.
The minister said the DRC is one of Zambiaâ€™s largest non-traditional export markets and also one of the largest markets for Zambiaâ€™s finished products with exports of US$803 million in 2014.
â€œWe also agreed to establish a joint bilateral trade committee with the task of promoting the development of joint projects, to fight against fraud and to eliminate non-tariff barriers. Furthermore, the committee will review the list of products every six months to take into account the dynamics in trade and economic development of both countries,â€ Mrs Mwanakatwe said.
She said these agreements represent concrete steps her ministry is taking to reduce the countryâ€™s overdependence on copper exports.
Mrs Mwanakatwe urged Zambian exporters to take advantage of the agreements.
The minister said issues of standards and quality are paramount to maximising the opportunities that such agreements create.
She is confident that the implementation of the trade agreements will contribute significantly to job and wealth creation, particularly in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka