Zambia, US trade unbalanced

ZAMBIA’s exports to the United States of America (USA) still remain undesirable at only US$47.3million compared to imports of US$129 million recorded last year, says a government official.

Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Keith Mukata says the country should move away from being a mere producer and supplier of raw materials to producer of value-added products to ensure a trade balance between the two countries.

“I note with concern that trade figures between the two countries are quite low. These clearly are not desirable figures that a developing country would want to have with a big economy such as the USA,” he said.

Mr Mukata said this in Lusaka yesterday at the civil society workshop on African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) organised by Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) and aimed at reflecting an achievements made under the USA trade treaty.

He said despite the country being a member of AGOA-eligible countries, Zambia has not fully taken advantage of the trade treaty.

Mr Mukata said the country has benefited from AGOA in less direct ways such as through exports of cotton yarn and chili pepper to South Africa, which manufactures the products to the USA.

“Zambia’s gains would have been much greater if ways could be found to transform these inputs into finished products in Zambia,” he said.

He said there is need for civil society organisations to work closely with Government in ensuring that the country moves away from being an exporter of raw materials to finished products for it to take advantage of the USA and regional markets.

Mr Mukata said the USA and Zambian governments are currently working together to improve trade and investment.

In 2010, the two governments established a working group to explore ways of increasing and diversifying two-way trade and to address challenges that hinder the flow of trade.

Earlier, CUTS chairman Love Mtesa said the civil society will continue to lobby for an enabling environment for traders to fully benefit from the AGOA treaty.

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