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‘Zambia, US economic ties vital’

ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has challenged the American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia (AmCham Zambia) to position itself as an effective platform where the country’s products can penetrate the United States (US) market.
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe said there is need for AmCham Zambia to help strengthen economic ties between the two countries, as America is an important source of investment and trading partner for Zambia.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said at the chamber’s general meeting on Friday that Zambia is determined to open up to well-meaning investments by putting in place the necessary economic infrastructure.
“Your work is critical in strengthening the participation of American companies in the Zambian economy, thereby creating the much-needed jobs for the people,” she said.
Zambia’s exports to the US have remained lower than US$20 million over the past five years with a negative trade balance.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said the launch of AmCham by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton three years ago, which coincided with the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) was a clear indication of the US government’s commitment to support trade and investment relations with Zambia.
She, however, expressed disappointment that the AGOA business platform has not yielded any meaningful results for Zambia.
“While the AGOA Act constitutes an important avenue for increasing exports, its utilisation by the country has been unsatisfactory. We, therefore, need to find ways of making this avenue meaningful,” Mrs Mwanakatwe said.
Earlier, American ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz urged Government to further improve its World Bank ease of doing business rating from 111 to at least 55 to attract more foreign and domestic investments.
“Better polices will not only lead to greater growth now, but will also position Zambia to benefit when Africa becomes the emerging market and a principal driver of global growth in the future,” he said.

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