GOVERNMENT says it remains committed to addressing obstacles affecting the smooth flow of trade across border crossing points.

Speaking during a media training workshop under the Zambia Border Posts Upgrading Project (ZPBUP), Monday, Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry permanent secretary Chawe Chuulu said there was a need to define a clear and coherent facilitation approach which enhanced trade for both small and large traders.

In a speech read on her behalf by Bessie Cheelemu, Chuulu said the objective was to reposition Zambia to gain competitiveness in the domestic, regional and international markets.

“The ministry has over the past few months been repositioning its structure as well as redefining the role which it plays in the development equation of the country, specifically in reducing poverty and inequality. Allowing the two threats to persist amounts to endangering lives and survival of millions of people of this great nation. Therefore, there is an imminent need to address the issue on an urgent basis,” she said.

“One avenue the ministry aims to achieve this through defining a clear and coherent trade facilitation approach which enhances trade for both small and large traders. The overall objective is to remove obstacles to the smooth flow of trade across border crossing points and along transport corridors with a view to reducing the time transporters/traders spend moving their goods, remove incentives for corrupt practices, improve the revenue collection and contributes to enhancing business competitiveness and overall economic welfare gains, while safeguarding legitimate regulatory objectives.”

She said for this reason, a US$6.8 million agreement between Zambia and COMESA was signed in November for the implementation of the ZPBUP.

“Specifically, the ZPBUP is a third generation agreement between the government of Zambia, the European Union (EU), and the COMESA is being implemented under the 11th European Development Fund (EFD) Trade Facilitation Program. The actual sub-delegation agreement between Zambia and COMESA whose total budget is US$6.8 million was signed in November 2020,” she said.

“The value of initiating this project hinges on its potential to specifically address the trade and trade facilitation related bottlenecks faced by traders. This will be through upgrading the Chirundu, Mwami and Nakonde One Stop Border Posts which are the key identified borders with potential to shape Zambia’s trade profile. Specifically, the project will aim to address among others the low uptake and implementation of coordinated border management (CMB) principles at the three border posts, (b) inadequate legal framework on CMB and trade facilitation, (c) Obsolete cross-border infrastructure (soft) and equipment at the three border post.”

She said procurement of key border equipment was underway.

“Implementation of the project is underway in the area of capacity building, sensitization and procurement of key border equipment. Once fully implemented, it is expected that border operations will be efficient and in turn contribute towards improving the trade and livelihood profile for most traders. These projected outcomes will require considerable appreciation by the general public and funding community,” said Chuulu.