CUTS International recommends more investment in mineral refineries

CONSUMER Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International has said Zambia needs more investment in refineries to improve copper and cobalt into finished products if real benefits of trading these extractive products is to be realized.

In a press statement, CUTS – International acting centre coordinator Patrick Chengo stated that trade in some countries like China had led to poverty reduction, which was why there was increasing concern that trade is yet to benefit poor countries like Zambia.

“Zambia heavily relies on the extractive industries, copper and cobalt, for its trade, but the impact on poverty reduction has been minimal,” he stated. “The underlying factors have mainly been that the country has not fully diversified from its traditional exports which are mostly in form of raw and not finished products.”

Chengo stated that this was why investment in agriculture was also important if Zambia was to manage her diversification agenda.

“The Maputo Declaration of 10 per budget allocation to the agriculture sector is a starting point for Zambia’s strengthening of the diversification process,” he noted.

Chengo, however, stated that despite the fact that the country had recorded some steady growth steered by improved performance of the extractive industries, this growth had not translated into poverty reduction.

Poverty levels in Zambia still stand at over 65 per cent.

“This now brings closer the issues raised by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where African countries, Zambia inclusive, have been challenged to consider engaging and replicating developing countries’ experiences that have translated into growth of their economies,” he stated.

Chengo noted that it was important that trade with countries like China, India and Brazil resulted in economic diversification rather than simply the sale of African commodities and raw materials, as indicated in the UNCTAD 2010 Africa trade report.

The report stated that growing trade, finance and investment with other developing countries was an opportunity for Africa to diversify production, acquire technology and develop regional markets.

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