I am pleased to welcome you all to the 2016 and 52nd Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF). Once again we meet at this important business forum to consolidate the economic ties between Zambia and the rest of the world. The theme for this year’s ZITF is “Enhanced Value Addition for Job Creation’’.
As you may be aware, value addition to raw materials is one of the drivers of economic growth and ultimately facilities and promotes diversification of our economy.
It increases earnings and welfare at all levels, hence this year’s theme is be-fitting to our expedition of achieving social-economic development through diversification strategies.
The global economy is under pressure and our country has not been spared. Low copper prices and electricity outages have also compounded the situation.
Despite all this however, the Government is working tirelessly to mitigate these economic setbacks. It has deliberately put in place measures to restore macro-economic stability as a way of repositioning the country to economic growth.
The Government has embarked on various reforms that transcend mining to include value addition as critical to attaining sustainable economic growth, wealth and job creation.
Recognising the need for financial resources to value addition, the government has extended access to finance for small and medium enterprises. For instance, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry through the Citizen’s Economic Empowerment is providing loans at lower interest rates.
Furthermore, the implementation of preferential procurement is also providing an opportunity to small and medium business to obtain tenders from public intuitions.
The establishment of reservation schemes in poultry production, domestic haulage and block-making is intended to achieve a similar objective of citizen empowerment.
My Ministry has also embarked on a number of programmes and projects aimed at promoting value addition value addition to locally produced goods. These include:
(a) Value chain empowerment programmes through the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission;
(b) Promoting of the Proudly Zambian Campaign in collaboration with the Zambia Association of Manufactures;
(c) Capacity building of the Zambia Bureau of Standards to ensure enhanced product quality assurance and consumer welfare; and
(d) Infrastructure development such as the Multi-facility Economic Zones and Industrial Parks
Dear Reader, allow me to comment on the policy directive to transfer the Department of Cooperatives to the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry in order to revamp the cooperative movement across all sectors.
My Ministry has endeavoured to spearhead this important assignment by addressing policy, legal and institutional reforms with regard to the Cooperative Department. Certainly the legal and regulatory framework are processes that require time and my Ministry has put in place short term measures to expedite the realignment of the department to the Ministry.
As such, streamlining the registration process for cooperatives to make it more cost effective and efficient, removal of requirements for business plans as pre-requisite for registration, simplification of application forms and the reviewing of fees for registration and annual returns are among short term reforms that the ministry has put in place.
At regional and international levels, the Government if determined to facilitate trade, and support trade-facilitation programmes such as the Nacala-Walvis Bay-Lobito and the North-South Corridors. Furthermore, government has continued to secure markets for Zambian products through the multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements.
May I conclude by urging the business community to take advantage of platforms such as the Zambia International Trade Fair to establish joint ventures both locally and internationally in order to enhance value addition.
I wish you a memorable trade fair.
Margaret D. Mwanakatwe, MP
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry