THE World Bank (WB) has described trade in services in Zambia and Africa in particular, as a major tool for economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction.
Speaking at a seminar organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry in Lusaka yesterday, WB senior trade economist Nora Dihel said trade in services with other countries was key to economic growth adding that, export of services could drive the export diversification process.
"Export of services can drive export diversification, while imports of services and foreign direct investment can lead to more competition, low prices, high quality and variety.
However in Zambia inefficient services limit the country's competitiveness and exports.Inefficiencies abound along the value chain and include, lack of affordable finance to services," Ms Dihel said.
She said despite the huge infrastructure investment in Zambia, returns to such investments were constrained by inefficient logistics services.
Ms Dihel said linking infrastructure and regulatory reforms of services would create efficiencies for the country's trade with its neighbours which she described as fraught and burdened with trade costs.
She added that providing access to finance and enacting regulatory reforms that liberalise across service sectors, were priority actions recommended for Zambia.
The one day seminar sought to share findings and proposed targeted areas of reform for Zambian related to trade.
The event has been managed in conjunction with WB report on trade and regional integration, formally known as a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS).
The seminar drew representatives from both the Zambian Government and the private sector.
Ms Dihel said Zambia was one of the most liberal countries in Southern Africa but that, access to affordable finance, good quality services had not improved for most Zambians.
She said, this called for domestic and regional efforts to coordinate liberalisation with regulatory reforms adding that, Zambia should use existing regional initiatives like the Accelerated Programme for Economic Integration (APEI) ,Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA) and other regional bodies as a strategic way to achieve its objectives.