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Greater Opportunities Revealed for Zambian Exports in Comesa

Greater Opportunities Revealed for Zambian Exports in Comesa

The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

4 November 2004

A comprehensive report on the exploratory research undertaken by a London-based consultancy firm has revealed tremendous export business opportunities for export of Zambian products into selected countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Free Trade Area.

The report compiled and produced by the Africa Trade Services Group (ATSG) following the successful completion of market research missions to Kenya, Congo DR, Uganda and Malawi, was funded and commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat of London. The ATSG conducted the research in association with the Export Board of Zambia and their counterparts in selected COMESA countries.

The research was preceded by a supply survey conducted in Zambia and demand surveys in the four target markets. The export market survey/ research conducted to investigate opportunities for Zambian products in the selected COMESA markets was based on current trends in regional trade, competitiveness, requirements of importers in the target markets and many other market access issues. The survey undertook to identify relevant importers, wholesalers, distributors and other buyers to ascertain their level of interest in importing identified products from Zambia.

The interest for the establishment of concrete trading relations between importers in the selected countries and the Zambian industry representatives was also assessed.

The survey further ascertained sources of competing products, assessed their competitiveness and examined leading manufacturers of selected products who are interested in joint ventures and other collaborative arrangements. A number of Zambian products were identified and used to march with the competing goods in the selected COMESA countries. These include textiles and garments, engineering products, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, agricultural produce, plastics, rubber and paper products, among others.

The common characteristic among the selected COMESA countries visited during the research is that almost all of them have opted for the open market system that allows business transactions beyond their borders without serous trade barriers. The countries are able to import or export products on globally accepted trade terms and within the COMESA Free Trade Area incentives.

This creates immense opportunities for Zambian manufacturers and traders wanting to export a wide range of products to the COMESA region and beyond.

For instance, Malawi has since the 1990s concentrated on the liberalization of trade and promotion of greater integration through bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements.

However, Malawiís official imports from Zambia have been quite low, although substantial unrecorded cross-border trade is undertaken by Zambia for tea, tobacco, maize and live animals. Zambiaís official exports amounted to US$1, 647, 105, 343.0 while re-exports were US$130, 235.0 in 2002.

The Malawi market offers tremendous opportunities for low value, high bulk cotton fabric and high value fashion garments and styles particularly of African print (Chitenge).

Enormous opportunities for Zambia abound in both low and high value textiles and garments since the countryís fashion is gradually gaining recognition not only in Malawi but the rest of the COMESA region. Specific interest in the Malawian market is identified in the Zambian produced blankets, African print, cotton yarn and lint, apparel and clothing accessories, fishing net, twines, tents and tarpaulins. Others are pharmaceutical and chemical products, plastics, rubber and paper products.

Further, Zambia has greater potential to access and expand its share of the Kenyan market especially that at the moment its exports are limited to copper. Opportunities do exist for collaboration in investment and joint ventures in manufacturing, services and trade sector.