INTERNATIONAL –The Zambian government said on Wednesday that the number of local firms that have shown interest to participate at the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) has gone up this year compared to last year.
Christopher Yaluma, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, said so far 35 firms have confirmed their participation although the number could be expected to go as high as 40 as some firms have made their own arrangements.
Last year, 14 Zambian firms participated in the first CIIE. "This time there has been a lot of interest from the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) because they have now seen an opportunity where they can grow their small businesses into big businesses.
The number of private sector following us has grown," he told Xinhua in an interview. "So this will be bigger and I can assure you it will be bigger year by year because this is the only way we can let our small-scale farmers, small-scale industries and small-scale miners have their way into the international market," he added.
Zambia, he said, was grateful to the Chinese government for providing a market for its products and noted that the southern African nation would grasp the opportunity with both hands.
According to him, Zambia was able to clinch a market of $90 million of its honey in China after participating in last year's expo as well another deal for the supply of pig trotters.
The participation at the expo, he said, has not only provided a market for Zambia products but also placed a demand on local firms to improve the standards and quality of their products because they were many competitors from all over Africa trying to penetrate the Chinese market.
"I would like to thank the Chinese government for being considerate to allow Zambia to, in our way, penetrate their market with our products which I think means a lot to the Zambian people, to the Zambian government because that would create our more desired foreign exchange that would also help create employment," he said.
Meanwhile, the Zambian minister commended China for bestowing on Zambia the status of guest of honor at the expo. The government, he said, was so humbled by such a gesture, adding that it was a signal of the level of bilateral relations the two countries have enjoyed over the years. According to him, the two countries have enjoyed warm bilateral relations since the establishment of the diplomatic ties 55 years ago.