Sunday, June 16, 2024

Zambia’s Commitment to Regional Integration and Value Addition: Boosting COMESA’s Economic Prosperity

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The Zambian government has pledged its commitment to supporting the economic integration of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Africa region.

Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga says to this effect, Zambia is promoting the creation of regional value chains in order to support value addition to the continent’s vast resources.

He explained that to achieve this Zambia is establishing initiatives with its neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) aimed at contributing to regional cooperation and integration in different value chain sectors.

ZANIS reports that Mr Mulenga was speaking in Lusaka today during the 16th COMESA Business Forum hosted by the COMESA Business Council.

“One-way Zambia is doing this is through the establishment of the Zambia and Zimbabwe Common Agro Industrial Park (CAIP). This cooperation will contribute to regional integration through the development of cross-border value chains in sectors in which the two countries have comparative advantage to transform our raw materials into processed products. In addition, Zambia and the DRC signed a Cooperation Agreement for the Development of a Value Chain in the Electric Vehicle Battery and Clean Energy sector,” he stated.

Mr Mulenga however, explained that the initiatives will not only benefit the three countries, but will enhance intra-Africa free trade and investment through COMESA and the African Continental Free Trade Area, by promoting value addition and integration in mineral endowments of the continent.

He added that this is why there is a need for concerted efforts from all governments in the African region to promote the shared economic prosperity by providing a conducive business environment supported by a strong policy framework for the private sector to thrive.

” As Zambia, we have been undertaking business reforms intended to improve the investment climate. We need to support value addition to our vast resources and to do this, the private sector is encouraged to use platforms such as this one to create viable business linkages. We need to join hands to drive our economic prosperity,” he said.

He further commended the COMESA Business Council and the business community at large, for the commitment shown in fostering trade and investment within the region, adding that the forum creates a platform for countries to explore opportunities and facilitate regional integration.

” It is heart-warming and encouraging to see that the region is on a positive trajectory recording a steady increase in intra-regional trade from USD 9.2 billion in 2019 to USD 9.9 billion in 2022. With this progress, I am positive that this Business Forum will leverage on the gains and consolidate growth in intra-trade and investment potential in the region.

Meanwhile, COMESA Business Council president, Marday Vankatasamy, has called on COMESA member states to increase the trading levels within the region.
Mr Vankatasamy expressed concern that intra-COMESA trade has continued to be low at about US$12.7 billion dollars.

He explained that this is because the member states trade more with the rest of the world than among themselves despite the enormous opportunity that each member has that can be exploited.

” In order to increase intra-COMESA trade, it calls upon Member States to deepen trade with their existing trading partners in COMESA and also expand trade with other Member States in COMESA because the potential is there for each country to contribute to intra trade,” he noted.

Mr Vankatasamy also called on the private sector to play an active role in fostering a sustainable trade development agenda in the region as it recovers from the global economic shocks such as the COVID 19 and the tension between Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier, COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe also emphasized on the need for the Public-Private Sector partnership,if the region is to grow it’s intra trade.

Ms Kapwepwe explained that COMESA will use the existing institution such as the COMESA Business Council to leverage on the potential of member states to increase intra-COMESA trade through private sector development.

” It is always important to synergise and capitalise on each other’s strengths in targeted focus areas.The COMESA Secretariat and CBC are closely working together on several initiatives in promoting private sector development in the COMESA region,”she said.

Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat Secretary General Wamkele Mene commended COMESA for having 19 out of its 21 member states ratify the AfCFTA agreement.

Mr Mene explained that this makes COMESA the largest economic bloc to ratify the agreement,which is aimed at promoting intra African trade and investment.

1 COMMENT

  1. You are failing to provide medicines in hospital to your own people and yet here you are talking about regional. Fuseke

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