INADEQUATE trade border posts limits Zambia’s economic growth which can only expand if a country has sufficient trade connections with other countries, says chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates Highvie Hamududu.
Mr Hamududu, who is Bweengwa Member of Parliament, said Zambia missed out on trade connectivity with countries such as Angola which has a big economy and market for Zambian products. He was speaking when Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Kayula Siame appeared before the committee to present her submissions on the performance of Zambia’s balance of payments.
“Countries are fighting for space for surplus of produce; you said you signed an agreement with DRC, leaving out Angola with a huge market. The Angolan market and its economy are bigger than DRC,” he said.
Mr Hamududu said Zambia has lost out from such a big market with better logistics and trade connectivity.
“The ministry must strategies to open up the country’s market and in the neighbourhood; Angola has got money for good business with Zambia. We lost out from such a big market; it’s about connectivity and logistics of business,” he said.
He observed that the economy grew through trade connectivities and the number of trade border posts.
Mr Hamududu said many parts of Zambia could export their produce if trade connectivities we put in place by the Government.
“A country grows through trade and we are not connected; the number of border posts that are logistically connected are quite limited. The whole Luapula and Northern circuit can develop if we have proper connectivity,’’ he said.
Responding to Mr Hamududu’s concerns, Ms Siame disclosed that Government was this week scheduled to sign a trade agreement with Angola.
Ms Siame said her ministry, which signed a trade agreement last year with Congo DRC, was expected to sign one with Angola which would allow Zambia tap into that country’s market. She also said Government was willing to improve trade border posts.
“We are willing to work out those challenges the best way we can regarding connectivity; there is something on North- Western Province that we are working on. “We recently signed an US$18 million with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to develop the project. The project will go together with the development of the corridor that Ministry of Works and Supply is working on to ensure that the country has border linkages,’’ she said.
Ms Siame also said Government was trying to put up a national structure for facilitating trade together with all ministries.
“We are trying to put a national structure looking at all issues to do with trade together with all ministries so that trade is not looked at in a narrow point of view,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms Siame said Zambia’s balance of payments disequilibria on the current account was largely caused by the deficit or surplus in the trade balance.
She said, in mitigating the imbalance, Government was undertaking programmes to encourage local private sector to take advantage of the free trade and preferential market access opportunities for Zambia.
Ms Siame said promoting improved quality of products produced by local companies so that they could be competitive on the domestic market was one way of correcting the inequality in the balance of payments.
“The promotion is expected to reduce the import costs for the country as more consumer demand for local products increases.
“Government is also promoting investments into sectors with high potential for export as a way of correcting the disequilibria in Zambia’s balance of payments,” she said.