THE Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) has said the country's export market has posted low export volumes to Japan with a trade balance of US$144.6 million.
ZDA acting director general Glyne Michelo said Zambia's exports declined from $6.9 million in 2010 to $4 million in 2011.
Mr Michelo said the trade imbalance between the two countries demonstrated the need for Zambia to boost its export productions and value addition.
Speaking in Lusaka during the Japanese Food Market Seminar, Mr Michelo said Zambia should take advantage of the growing Japanese market and consequently reduce the trade deficit.
"Exports to the Japanese market have shown slow growth and the trade balance between the two countries stands at $144.6 million hence the need to utilise the growing demand for Zambian products on that market," he said.
However, Mr Michelo said the country had continued to post positive export growth to the rest of the world, adding that there was an export excess of $8.6 billion against imports of $7.1 billion in 2011.
He said the country's excess product exports resulted in a positive trade balance of $1.4 billion.
"Similarly the country is seeing an upswing of Non-Traditional Exports earnings over the past five years growing from $566 million to $1.8 billion last year and growth rate averaged 20.4 per cent as a result of Government's efforts to diversify the economy, he said.
Mr Michelo also said the Zambian business community should ensure that they fully participated in the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) fair in Japan, saying this would accord them an opportunity to explore the needs of the Japanese export market.
"JETRO is here to enlighten the Zambian export community in processed and primary agricultural sector on the benefits of participating in the biggest food and beverage exposition and also to show that Japan is a lucrative export destination for Zambian foods and beverages," he said.
And JETRO regional director Craig De La Harpe said the organisation's main objective was to promote trade and investment.
Mr De La Harpe said Zambia had potential to meet the demand for its foods and beverages on that market.
"We also promote cross-border trading between African small and Medium enterprise and their Japanese counterparts, this helps in business growth as well as technology transfer. But the challenge is that local SMEs should work towards meeting the standards of that market as you know it's a sensitive market," he said.