From Conrad Mwanawashe in BULAWAYO—
ZAMBIA is committed to enhancing trade with Zimbabwe as business co-operation between the two countries has strengthened over the years, Zambian President Edgar Lungu has said. In pursuit of growth in bilateral trade, Zambia would engage Zimbabwe on ensuring that the Victoria Falls-Livingstone One-Stop Border Post, and that of UniVisa were operational to facilitate more business between the two neighbours, he said.
Officially opening the 56th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) here yesterday, President Lungu said the two countries should seize various business opportunities around them and accelerate economic growth.
He said the theme of this year’s edition of the ZITF was timely as it came at a time when Zambia and Zimbabwe were implementing measures aimed at ensuring value addition to various resources the two countries were endowed with.
“In our effort to stimulate trade, my Government is committed to ensuring that the two countries enhance trade in line with this year’s Trade Fair theme,” said President Lungu.
This year’s edition of the ZITF was running under the theme: “Stimulating Trade, Seizing Opportunities to Accelerate Growth”.
“In this regard, I am directing my Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Hon Margaret D Mwanakatwe, MP, to closely work with her Zimbabwean counterpart and ensure that the Victoria Falls-Livingstone One-Stop Border Post, which were declared by Your Excellency (President Mugabe) and Your Departed Comrade His Excellency, Mr Michael Chilufya Sata (MHSRP), during the official opening of the United Nations World Trade Organisation in 2013 is operationalised.”
President Lungu also directed the Minister of Home Affairs of Zambia to work with his Zimbabwean counterpart to finalise the implementation of the UniVisa between the two countries.
Zimbabwe and Zambia last year agreed to implement a UniVisa regime to facilitate trade and tourist arrivals between the two countries.
He said the friendship between Zimbabwe and Zambia founded by the forefathers, had a rich history dating back to pre-colonial days.
“The people of Zimbabwe and Zambia have always lived and worked together for the common good.”
“We are Siamese twins joined by the Zambezi River and the mighty Victoria Falls, a natural monument and, one of the Seven Wonders of the World that symbolise our identity and cultures. The trade and investment relations between the two countries have strengthened over the years,” said President Lungu.
From 2010 to 2014, Zambia’s exports into Zimbabwe exceeded $1,3 billion, while Zimbabwe exports into Zambia over the same period were above $486 million.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have a history of working together in various joint venture projects both in the private and public sectors.
Some of the projects the two countries cooperated on include the construction and management of the Kariba Dam, the establishment of a One-Stop-Border post at the Chirundu Border, which was the first of its kind in Africa and the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference in 2013, among others.
He urged border agencies to compliment the efforts of the private sector, in particular, the small and medium entrepreneurs and ensure that trade between the two countries was smooth and uninterrupted.
“We should continue sharing information and engaging each other as we resolve any challenge, which may come our way,” said President Lungu.
This year’s edition of the trade fair attracted more than 400 direct exhibitors and 19 countries, which organisers said was encouraging.
President Lungu said the ZITF had traditionally been one of the region’s leading trade fairs and was a fair where the best local, regional and international exhibitors always participated.
“The trade fair should be viewed as a celebration that has continually provided a platform for organisations to interact, create business partnerships and promote trade and investment in Zimbabwe and the region,” said President Lungu.
He said this year’s theme was befitting as the showcase came at a time when the two countries and the region were implementing reforms aimed at stimulating trade within the countries and across the borders.
“Your Excellency, we have just come from an Extraordinary Sadc Summit whose main objective was to put the region’s industrialisation at the centre of the Sadc Development Agenda in order to deepen and broaden productive capacities and enhance their competitiveness,” said President Lungu.
President Lungu said his relationship with his counterpart President Mugabe was cordial. He paid respect to President Mugabe saying Zimbabwe occupied a “special space” in his heart and, it was the first country he visited since assuming office in January this year.