Zambia’s exports to DRC expected to hit US $2bn

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ZAMBIA’S exports to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are this year set to hit US $2 billion from US $1.2 billion achieved last year, commerce minister Felix Mutati disclosed yesterday.

DRC is Zambia’s biggest trading partner in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.

Speaking when International Finance Corporation (IFC) vice-president for Business Advisory Services Rachel Kyte paid a courtesy called on him, Mutati said DRC was a growing market for Zambian products owing to its huge market and easy accessibility.

“Last year, we exported to Congo DR value in excess of US $1.2 billion; that is colossal. The figure this year…we are going to cross US $2 billion in exports to Congo,” Mutati said.

“The advantage of Congo DR is that the range of exports is from agriculture products through to processed items, machinery…literally, anything that we can produce in Zambia is exportable to Congo. Talk about Maheu, it is finding its way to Congo, sweets, biscuits, cornflakes, they are importing that. Freshpikt is sending various products to the Congo DR, we are exporting honey to the Congo. There is a whole variety and basket products that we are exporting to the Congo DR.”

Mutati said the government was working towards making the road linking to Kasumbalesa a dual carriageway, and at the same time operationalise the one-stop border post at Kasumbalesa by the end of this year through public private partnership.

“Our colleagues on the DRC side have already completed, Zambia is lagging behind in completing the one-stop border,” he said. “Once we complete these two, the trade volume will be assisted.”

Mutati said Zambia wanted to take advantage of the easy accessibility of the market in the biggest central African country to improve trade volumes, aided by bilateral agreements with the support of Comesa.

“We are having at end of this month, a meeting with the trade minister of DRC to make progress on the bilateral trade agreement that will continue to enhance and support the expansion of trade,” said Mutati.

“We think those actions should be able to result in increased trade volumes with the Congo DR. All these things you call standards, phytosanitary and all those complicated things which make it difficult for Zambia and other countries to trade particularly with Europe, with our neighbours you could literally take live chickens across borders and they will buy. We have a simplified way of understanding each other in terms of trade and the returns are much higher because you don’t incur huge transport costs. It’s a nearest market and the demand is big.”

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