THE trade agreement signed between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia will enable smooth cross border trading which has been hampered for a long time, says Private Sector Development (PSDA) Association chairperson Yusuf Dodia.
Mr Dodia said trade between Zambia and DRC had for a long time been hampered by the long period trucks had wait at the border to move into either country.
He said with the recent bilateral trade agreement, the two countries would be able to put in place a mechanism for speeding up cross border trade.
“More importantly, it will set a stage for investors in both countries to invest in support and facility mechanisms and support trade between Zambia and DRC,” he said.
Mr Dodia said the agreement would also set a stage for key government’s officials from DRC to put new mechanisms in ensuring that there was smooth trade.
“In other words we are looking at the government controlling the Katanga province which Zambia does a lot of trade with. Our own domestic government officials on the Copperbelt should ensure that there is very little interference in the trade mechanisms,” he said.
The agreement will also make provisions for both countries to take measures necessary for the protection of national security interests, the environment, public health and public morals among others.
Meanwhile, Zambia Manufacturers Association (ZAM) chief executive officer Maybin Nsupila said the agreement would reduce smuggling and provide a platform for manufacturers to legally export their products.
Mr Nsupila said the agreement would not only contribute to increasing volumes of products exported into DR Congo but also provide a platform for increased production. He said DR Congo remained a very important market for Zambian non-traditional exports (NTEs) in particular both in SADC and COMESA regions.
“First of all as ZAM we are very grateful that we have reached this stage most of you might not know that we started negotiations for this agreement some 20 years ago,” he said.
Mr Nsupila also said trade figures that had been recorded were significantly lower than the actual volume because of smuggling.
“The manufacturing industry recognizes that the industry in DRC may not be as strong as the one in Zambia. Therefore, this agreement provides us a very big opportunity to make strides into the Congolese markets,” he said.
Government has signed a bilateral trade agreement which will adopt measures dealing with unfair trade and smuggling of products between Zambia and Dr Congo.