30 October 2012

Zambia: Sata's Korea Visit to Boost Trade, Cement Ties

AGAINST all odds, President Michael Sata has moved miles away from home to secure investment to ensure that he leaves the country a better place than he found it.

Mr Sata has at times invited leaders of the opposition parties to these foreign trips so that together, they could find ways of improving the country's social and economic sectors.

He has realised that to grow the country's various sectors requires the efforts of all Zambians, but above all entail luring foreign investors to the country to participate in its economic growth.

According to the Patriotic Front (PF) party manifesto as well as the campaign promises during the period running to the September 20, 2011 elections, President Sata promised that his Government would treat all investors equally for as long as they adhered to the country's laws.

In addition, the PF promised that they would encourage foreign investment from whichever country for the good of the nation.

Just last week, the Head of State alongside a delegation of experts went to South Korea for a four day working visit as well as to attend the 3rd Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) forum, to lure investment from that country into Zambia, Africa's largest producer of copper.

During his tour of duty to South Korea, Mr Sata urged that country's business community to invest in Zambia, as the investment climate was favourable and beneficial to both the investors and the local populace.

In his move to attract Korean investment, Mr Sata, who arrived at the Incheon International Airport in the tourist city of Seoul on October 15, went there at the invitation of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

The President's entourage included First Lady Christine Kaseba, Foreign Affairs Minister Given Lubinda, Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda and Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo.

Others were Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Bob Sichinga, Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations George Chella, Zambia's Ambassador to Japan Mwelwa Chibesakunda and Zambia's consular to Korea Robinson Zulu.

In his address to the KOAFEC delegates, Mr Sata urged African countries to appreciate the advanced technology which South Korea could transfer to the African continent and contribute to the acceleration of economic growth and the positive spin offs arising from such developments.

He said the Korea-Africa forum has evolved and become an important platform for sharing information on topical issues cardinal for Africa's development.

"It is a strategic partnership necessary for fostering development in Africa and advancement of issues of mutual interest between Africa and South Korea and we need to sustain this strategic partnership to provide a win-win situation for both sides within the context of south-south cooperation," said Mr Sata.

He said with such a context, African countries would like to benefit from South Korea's development experience and that the continent was waiting for Korean investors in sectors such as infrastructure which would open up the continent through rail, road and air networks.

Mr Sata was of the view that this in turn would lead to increased intra-regional trade, thereby making the cost of doing business on the continent more affordable.

And in his keynote address at the KOAFEC forum ministerial meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, President Sata urged the G20 countries to contribute to poverty reduction and development cooperation which were central to the fulfilment of the African agenda.

Mr Sata said, as part of the G20 countries, South Korea was expected to contribute to poverty reduction and development cooperation on the continent of Africa.

He stressed that Africa was ready to work with Korea to ensure that its concerns were adequately addressed in the G20 summit and that it was Africa's firm belief that the reform of the United Nations (UN) and its structures was crucial in ensuring fair representation, accountability, transparency and effectiveness.

"As part of the G20, we expect Korea to contribute to poverty reduction and development cooperation which are central to the fulfillment of the African agenda.

We stand ready to work with Korea to ensure that African concerns are adequately addressed in the G20 summit," he said at the event which was co- hosted by South Korea and the African Union (AU).

The KOAFEC forum was held from 16 to October 18 and discussed developmental cooperation, Trade investment and global security among other issues.

It was launched by former South Korean President Roh moo-hyun during his 2006 African trip and over 35 other African countries were represented at this year's event which is held every three years.

Mr Sata also held talks with South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik on the sidelines of the KOAFEC and used the opportunity to appeal to that Government to consider allowing the Korean Airlines to operate in Zambia as a way of promoting tourism and enhancing economic growth.

"Korean Investors should come and explore into Zambia and I would like to urge you to allow the Korean Airlines to start flying into Zambia as a way of promoting tourism and enhance economic growth," said the President.

The Head of State said Zambia had abundant land and invited the Korean businessmen to invest in the country in sectors such as mining, energy, and agriculture.

Mr Hwang-sik commended Zambia over the economic strides that the country had recorded from the time Mr Sata assumed office.

The Zambian delegation was also treated to a luncheon hosted by President Lee and South Korean First Lady Kim Yoon-ok at Cheong Wa Dae. The two leaders further held private talks at the same venue.

Mr Sata's tour of duty continued with him visiting the electronic giant factory of Samsung electronics in the digital city of Suwon. Here the President emphasised the need for the company to construct a factory in Zambia.

He told Samsung officials that included company president and Chief Financial Officer Ju-Hwa Yoon and vice-president Chung-Sung Lim, that it was unfortunate that Zambia had not seen the presence of Samsung electronics in the country.

Mr Sata did not mince his words and expressed disappointment that the company he had known for over 20 years had not built a factory in Zambia.

"Just like Daewoo and Hyundai, I have known Samsung electronics for over 20 years and I have not been impressed because you have not built a building in Zambia but instead you keep on building in Korea where there is no land.

So my main request is for you to open a factory in Zambia to cater for Central Africa and the region as a whole and that was why I personally came to deliver this message to you," he said.

Mr Sata said there was very little trade between Zambia and South Korea and appealed to the electronic company to invest in hydro power, which he said was affordable to many Zambians.

At the IS Dongseo Terrace House construction company, President Sata was represented by Mr Lubinda and Mr Sichinga who also laid a foundation stone at the construction site on behalf of Mr Sata.

It was a busy schedule for President Sata's delegation with the Government ministers present also holding one on one meetings with potential investors and showcasing what Zambia had to offer in terms of tourism, agriculture and industry.

The First Lady also used her medical background to implore a South Korean medical equipment manufacturing company to set up a plant in Zambia to meet the African demand in medical supply.

Dr Kaseba told officials at the Daihan Labtech Trading company, a medical equipment manufacturing company, that the company should consider putting up a manufacturing plant in Zambia to assist in health delivery services in the country.

Daihan Labtech trading company, manufactures laboratory, medical and industrial equipment and Dr Kaseba wondered why the company had set up more plants in other continents when the turnover in Africa was the same as that of other continents.

"You have saturated continents like Australia, so there is need for these machines to saturate our demand and you can use Zambia to target the African market, we have plenty of land, friendly people and the political will is conducive and that of creating jobs," she said.

The First Lady also visited Seoul National University Hospital.

As described by Mr Sichinga in an interview with Zambian Journalists in Seoul, President Sata's trip to South Korea was a 'positive experience' aimed at enhancing economic growth in Zambia.

Mr Sichinga says the experience in South Korea was very positive and that the Koreans had rolled out a red carpet for President Sata and the trip was an excellent opportunity to encourage potential South Korea investors to come to Zambia.

President Sata's visit to South Korea established what investment opportunities could be offered to Zambia and if companies like Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo and IS Dongseo Terrace House Construction company could set up plants in Zambia, it will be more employment opportunities for Zambians and certainly more money in their pockets.

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