PRETORIA - The existing trade and economic ties between South Africa and Zambia should be elevated to advance both countries and the broader Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), a senior diplomat has said.
South Africa's acting high commissioner to Zambia Marx Cameron told a trade and investment seminar hosted by Pretoria's department of economic development, trade and industry as part of a trade and investment tour of Lusaka and Kitwe that cooperation was central to economic development.
"As long as we collectively identify our strengths, weaknesses and challenges, finding possible solutions should be guaranteed,” Cameron said, adding that it was possible, someday, for African nations to rely on their own means without aid.
"We can no longer talk about trade and investment in the context of South Africa without considering the integral nature of our relationship with other countries in Africa. The African continent has opened up new markets for the business community to expand and grow within the continent and businesspeople must take advantage of that."
He said investing in African economies in general and the Southern African Development Community in particular was a key contribution that businesses could make towards creating jobs and reducing poverty.
Chief economist for industry development at Zambia's ministry of commerce, trade and industry Pamela Chitulang’oma urged businesses from both countries to invest in manufacturing and other sectors in order to correct a trade imbalance tilted in favour of South Africa.
Total South African exports to Zambia between January and May amounted to R12.4 billion while imports were just R1.1 billion.
Chitulang’oma said Zambia was endowed with abundant natural resources ranging from agricultural products to minerals but there was little value addition to these commodities.
“Government is committed to encouraging and supporting investments through provision of an enabling business environment conducive for investments. We urge South African businesspeople to explore these investment opportunities even in the Copperbelt province particularly in value addition in the minerals,” Chitulang’oma said.
Over 150 business people attended the seminar.
The week-long trade and investment mission led by the trade and industry department and ending on Friday consists of 28 business representatives. It aims to expose South African companies to the Zambian market while deepening bilateral trade relations.
Cameron said the mission was a clear indication that South Africa regarded Zambia as a key and strategic partner.
- African News Agency (ANA)