PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says Zambians elected the UPND government on the basis of fostering trade and investment.

Speaking when he met UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy Laurence Robertson, Tuesday, President Hichilema said the change to drive an economy was only possible on the platform of trade and investment.

“We are grateful to have you here for many reasons but some are obvious. One which is important for us is that trade and investment is the basis upon which we were elected into office by the people of Zambia. The change to drive the economy, an economy for opportunities, jobs, food, health, education and all of that. That is only possible on the platform of trade and investment. So, we are really pleased to have you. We are grateful to the British government and the Prime Minister for sending you here,” said President Hichilema.

And Robertson said the UK government was delighted to be a trade partner of choice to Zambia.

“I was appointed Trade Envoy by the Prime Minister at the end of last year but the COVID restrictions have meant that it wasn’t possible to visit Zambia before now. Can I congratulate you on your success in the recent election with such a victory. Which of course was achieved on the back of looking to create prosperity through trade and through business in order to bring both prosperity and also to fund the vital public services, which you also referred to. We are delighted as the United Kingdom if we can be a partner of choice for you. We have obviously very strong historic links which we want to take forward. We also want to stress the importance which the United Kingdom government places on trade as we referred to,” Robertson said.

“The United Kingdom I think is recognized for always having been a worldwide trading nation and we are very proud of that background. More recently the electorate of the United Kingdom took the decision to leave the European Union, well obviously we will retain close ties in terms of trade and cooperation with the European countries. We are looking across the world to strengthen trade links in every country.”

Robertson said his visit was focused on Zambia’s mining sector.

“The Prime Minister has appointed a number of trade envoys; I am privileged to be one of them. With that purpose in mind there are many African countries covered and also countries beyond Africa because we recognise the importance of trade, mainly because of the prosperity and also in terms of the relations which it fosters. As I said [this is] my first visit to Zambia, it won’t be my last visit, so this is the first one, I have had the privilege of meeting a couple of your Ministers so far,” said Robertson.

“This week I will be visiting three different areas as part of what is really a visit focused on the mining industry, not exclusively but that is the main focus of this particular visit. Future visits will take in different industries, I am sure. We recognise the vital role which mining industries play in Zambia and also the critical minerals which it will provide as we move forward. So, we recognise how crucial the industry is.”

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley said Robertson’s visit was meant to highlight the cooperation between Zambia and the UK.

“When the Prime Minister wrote to you shortly after your election victory to first of all offer his congratulations on your victory, he spoke about the relationship between the UK and Zambia being a special one. I am delighted that the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy was able to visit on an extended visit to highlight that cooperation. Your government was elected on a very clear platform for equitable economic growth that benefits all Zambians and improves all livelihoods and incomes. As the Trade Envoy says, we hope that the UK would be a partner of choice in helping you and supporting each other to achieve this ambition, which is one which is shared by the United Kingdom,” said Woolley.

And UK Director of Trade (Mining) Sally Bevington said the UK government was looking forward to promoting business in Zambia.

“The UK has had a very long and illustrious history of mining and it is obvious that Zambia would want to partner with UK companies in all forms of the industry you know from extracting, to processing, to selling. We look forward to having a long and prosperous history with you which already we have done. Mining is understandably a crucial part of your economic plan; it is a crucial part of the world going forward in terms of renewables. I look forward to promoting UK business in Zambia,” said Bevington.