Opportunities abound to improve trade with Zambia

Tujoromajo Kasuto

Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu, stated at the beginning of the Swakopmund International Trade Expo that trade between Zambia and Namibia is unequal with Namibia importing more from Zambia in terms of the value of the goods.

She stated that the regional and continental trade arrangements that both countries are party

provide a very good opportunity to increase value addition and establishment of viable and competitive industries in the continent that could create a lot of employment opportunities for especially women and youth.

Iipumbu noted that the statistics show that Zambia has the potential export of products to Namibia such as maize, sugar and copper. In addition, Namibia has export potential for fish, beer, cosmetics and salt.

‘’While our continent is endowed with the abundance of natural resources, most are exported as primary products to the rest of the world, and create employment opportunities elsewhere while our people suffer in poverty. Hence, our two countries need to chart avenues of collaborations to add value to our resources and raw materials,’’ she said.

She urged the business communities in both countries to exploit the existing trade potential between the two countries and engage in massive business diversification initiatives and utilize the untapped opportunities including engaging into regional value chain development, to grow their businesses and meaningfully contribute to their economies.

The theme of this event “Towards a Shared Economic Vision – Our Shared Destiny” comes at an opportune time when the two sister countries are embarking on an economic struggle route.

The Minister said that the road before the two countries is tedious, and requires all to reform some systems, processes and traditional methods of conducting business in order to enhance trade between the two countries as well as to address economic challenges that face their people.

‘’As we all know, Namibia and Zambia are party to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Trade

Facilitation Agreement. The Trade Facilitation Agreement calls for the Member States to

address cross border challenges that impede import and exports. Our two sister countries are also members of SADC and duly subscribe to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. We must therefore fully utilize these arrangements to advance our trade integration and industrialisation agenda,’’ she explained.

This comes as Namibia and Zambia are in the process of establishing a One Stop Border Post at Wenela border.

The negotiation towards this initiative commenced in 2013 during the 9th Session of the Zambia-Namibia Joint Permanent Commission and to date, such a dream has never been realized.

Consequently, she said the timeframe undertaken on this initiative which seeks to address cross border inefficiencies cannot be prolonged any further.

‘’The two member states must actively engage and finalize this noble idea. We are informed that currently, the border turn-around time between Namibia and Zambia at Wenela border post can take up to four days before trucks are cleared.

‘’Hence, we have to speedily address any outstanding matters to ensure implementation of the One Stop Border Post to ensure that trucks only make one stopover. Other reforms that we can focus our attention on are the development of Single Window environments in our countries, necessary for acceleration and clearance of goods from a single query, without our people being subjected to move from one office to another,’’ she said.

As a result, Iipumbu highlighted that It is thus important to resuscitate the Joint Trade engagements and conclude further MoUs on Trade and Investments with specific attainable deliverables such as this one.

By Observer