Zambia: ‘Regional integration vital for growth’
Zambia will continue strengthening its participation in regional economic integration and trade investment platforms because the agenda will promote the country’s industrialisation efforts, a senior Government official has said.
Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Kayula Siame also said there is need for continued private sector sensitisation on the eligibility of the over 6,000 products that are supposed to be exported duty free into the US market, under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum.
In an interview, ahead of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) policy organs meetings that begins today in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Ms Siame said Zambia will strive to ensure that regional trade results in mutual benefit for all member States.
The platform also offers opportunities to the private sector to strike deals and partnerships through the COMESA Business Council.
Asked why member countries don’t ratify and domesticate the various COMESA treaties that have been signed, Ms Siame said not every member is at the same level of development.
“We are coming from different backgrounds and domesticating treaties requires consultations at all levels, this creates a challenge since you have to re-align national policies to a regional perspective, and also some countries have already in place some of the proposed regional programmes,” she said.
And Ms Siame, who led the Zambian delegation at the just-ended AGOA forum in the US, said Zambia has not done much to utilise the duty free market that has been offered.
“We need to develop AGOA utilisation strategy and identify products to be exported since the over 6,000 products offered are a huge opportunity to miss! There is need for continuous private sector sensitisation on what should be exported and also to offer them technical support in partnership with cooperating partners,” she said.
This year’s forum was held under the theme ‘Maximising AGOA now to prepare for the future beyond AGOA.’
Last year, President Obama signed into law, the trade preferences extension Act 2015, which further extended AGOA for another 10 years to 2025.