28 November 2012

Zambia: Extend AGOA Facility, Says Sichinga

GOVERNEMNT has called for an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) facility because most Zambian entrepreneurs have not reaped from its benefits due to lack of capacity.

Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Bob Sichinga said the extension of AGOA would allow Zambian entrepreneurs to benefit greatly from it in terms of capacity building.

Mr Sichinga was speaking in Lusaka when he met visiting United States (US) under secretary in the Department of Commerce, Francisco Sanchez, who is leading a trade mission of 13 US investors.

The minister said there was need to have an extension of AGOA now because lack of capacity building had hindered most Zambian entrepreneurs from exporting their products to America.

He said investment usually took time before coming to fruition, hence the need for an extension.

"Investment is a process which is long term and we believe that 10 years is almost coming to a close, and that is why we are proposing as Government that AGOA should be extended to give Zambian entrepreneurs time to improve on capacity building," Mr Sichinga said.

He said it was also important that AGOA was extended because it would be able to give assurance to other entrepreneurs coming on board that the market was available in the US.

Mr Sichinga also said Zambia was faced with one challenge of being landlocked because products had to pass through other countries before coming into the country.

He said the Government wanted to take advantage of its landlocked nature to link it to neighbouring countries in the region.

Mr Sichinga also said there was need to combine the three bodies - Southern African Development Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the East African board - to make one strong body.

And Mr Sanchez said there was need for increased trade between Zambia and the US, the more reason the trade mission visited the country.

He said American investors had expressed interest to invest in various sectors of the economy, among them energy, construction, health and manufacturing.

Companies represented are Case New Holland, Dow, Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) Africa, General Electric, and Greeley and Hansen.

Other companies are Hybas International, Maybey Inc, Symbion, Synergics Energy services, and Trimble and Water services.

Mr Sanchez hailed Government's efforts in trying to make Zambia attractive for investments.

"We really recognise your efforts in trying to make the country attractive for investment," he said.

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