Zambia is hosting the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states in Chipata Eastern province for a sensitization meeting on small scale cross border and trade facilitation programmes.

The two day sensitization meeting which started today is part of the 68 million euro funded programme by the European Union under the 11th European Union Fund (EDF 11).

The meeting seeks to engage coordinating ministries focal point persons on the implementation of specific border interventions.

Speaking when he officially opened the meeting, Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu said he is pleased that Zambia is one of the beneficiaries of the programmes and has pledged the country’s commitment to ensuring policies are in tandem with neighbouring countries to ensure smooth trade among member countries.

The minister who commended the establishment of one stop border posts as one of the programme interventions said the move eases trade by lessening on corruption as well as time spent at the border.

Meanwhile, COMESA Director for Trade and Customs, Dr Francis Mangeni said the small scale cross border trade initiative addresses the needs of the most vulnerable traders who depend on cross border trade to earn a living.

Dr Mangeni said among the goals that the initiative seeks to achieve is to combat corruption as well as ensure there is decency in cross border trade.

“Women are mostly vulnerable despite making up seventy percent (70%) of small scale traders. It is for this reason that we want to ensure that everyone feels safe and is able to trade freely,” he noted.

He added that small scale trading is an important player on the market as it caters for forty percent (40%) of total trade.

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