Zambia: Trade needs private sector support to succeed

US Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella has said trade will not succeed on government effort alone but needs the assistance of the private sector.

And Ministry of Commerce permanent secretary Dr Buleti Nsemukila said the government recognises the Zambian Diaspora community as an important resource in forming partnerships and will work with Zambians based in the United States to establish linkages.

During the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) private sector breakfast meeting at Hotel InterContinental on Friday last week, Ambassador Storella said the private sector should be actively involved in dealing with trade issues with other nations as government only played the role of facilitating and negotiating whilst the private sector conducted business.

“Zambian companies can therefore take advantage of initiatives such as AGOA to export products to countries like the US,” he said. “As it is, some companies in the US have been asking about business opportunities in Zambia.”

Ambassador Storella said there was a lot of potential in trade which could be exploited between Zambia and the US.

“Trade between our two countries can greatly improve and I am looking forward to great things happening,” said Ambassador Storella.

And Nsemukila said African leaders, through their respective ministers of commerce at the last ministerial consultative group meeting on AGOA held on August 1, 2010 in Washingston, underscored the need for US investors to take advantage of existing opportunities in the AGOA beneficiary countries by investing in their productive sectors.

“The ministers recommended that private equity funds be encouraged to support economic activities in Africa by enhancing availability of risk capital and help to bring down the current high cost of long-term borrowing,” Nsemukila said.

He noted that the biggest challenge to taking advantage of opportunities presented by AGOA in most AGOA African countries is the state of transport and communication infrastructure which in turn translated into high transaction costs.

Dr Nsemukila said the ministers' forum reiterated the need to encourage the flow of private equity funds from the US to support economic activities in Africa as a way of mitigating the high cost of long-term borrowing in the AGOA countries.