Small scale cross border traders in Lusaka should take advantage of the COMESA trade facilitation instruments to grow their businesses. Senior Trade Officer of COMESA Mr. Tasara Muzorori told the traders that met in Lusaka for a one sensitization forum recently, that a large market of over 500 million people exists under the regional bloc which provides immense opportunities for trade.
He cited the Simplified Trade Regime (STR), which allows neighboring countries to negotiate a list of products that can be traded by the small-scale traders without paying export taxes as one of the key instruments of trade facilitation.
Anchored on the theme “Enterprise Development beyond Street Vending” the meeting was organised by the Regional Trade Initiative (RTI) to acquaint participants with the opportunities offered by the Zambian Trade Policy, Gender Policy and Youth Policy and the role small scale traders could play in the economy.
The RTI is a diverse membership driven organisation that seeks to provide a forum for integration, linkages, capacity building and sustainable growth for small and medium scale enterprises. Its aim is to promote business activities that support economic growth. It was established by Zambian entrepreneurs who have many years of experience in cross border trade and believe that Micro- Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) can contribute significantly to economic growth through empowerment (training, access to information and markets as well as financial help).
Recently, Zambia banned street vending and removed all vendors from Lusaka city thus creating the need to sensitize them on other business opportunities available.
In his presentation on the various trade facilitation instruments that have been developed to enhance intra-COMESA trade, Mr Muzorori told the traders that COMESA provides a forum for negotiating and agreeing on a trading environment for all the 19 Member States.
“COMESA supports clusters in selected sectors and negotiates for bigger markets under the Tripartite Free Trade Area and the Continental Free Trade Area,” he said and invited the traders to explore them adding that COMESA also provided a forum and motivation for addressing Non-Tariff Barriers.
To assist the small-scale traders, the RTI has opened a Trade Centre in Lusaka where 230 small market stalls have been constructed. These stalls provide decent trading space and environment for small scale traders to carry out their trading activities.
Zambia’s main products exported include maize, sulphuric acid, raw cane sugar, electricity, Portland cement, vegetable fats and oils and non-alcoholic beverages.