Zambia is still in the process of formalising modalities with countries it recently signed trade agreements with in order to remove trade barriers when conducting business, Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe has said.
She explained that it was not automatic that barriers such as paper work and others were immediately reduced when trade agreements were signed between countries.
Ms Mwanakatwe further explained that countries had to follow modalities by drawing up a list for products which would be in the trade agreement.
“I think that when we sign an agreement, the next step is now to sort out the modalities. I think the modalities are being worked on. In two weeks’ time, we are going to Congo DRC to finalise everything on the agreement we signed two months ago,’’ she said.
Responding to concerns by Zambian cross border traders with Malawi, Ms Mwanakatwe said modalities had not yet been agreed upon after recently signing the trade agreement.
She was however quick to say that it would not be a problem to draw a list of products because Malawi was part of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (COMESA) regions who shared same rules when conducting cross border trade.
“There should be free movements of goods as per SADC and COMESA so probably the agreement is just to strengthen the relation ties and move our products. Malawi shouldn’t be a problem because it is part of SADC and COMESA regions and we are in that agreement already,
Meanwhile, Ms Mwanakatwe said those complaining that there are still barriers in Zambia’s manufacturing industry must precisely state which hurdles they were talking about so that they could be removed. Ms Mwanakatwe said her job was to remove barriers when conducting business and that was why her ministry was streamlining in such cases as reducing licensing required for business.
“This is why you see us streamlining for example so that there are not too many licences required, but I need to know exactly what these barriers are so that I can respond comprehensively.
“I do not want barriers; I want them out because my job is to remove barriers. What are they and what can I do as a ministry to help them? But we need to do it together with them. I cannot do it on my own,” she said.