The Department of Trade and Industry's (dti) trade and investment mission to Zambia is an indication of the landlocked country's strategic importance to South Africa.
"The National Bi-National Commission agreement signed between South Africa and Zambia during President Cyril Ramaphosa's State visit in 2018, and the trade and investment mission, amongst others, are both a clear indication that South Africa regards Zambia as a key and strategic partner and an indication of South Africa's commitment to address the skewed trade imbalance between the two countries and commitment to the trade relations," said South African acting High Commissioner to Zambia Marx Cameron.
This as a delegation of 28 local companies through the assistance of the dti embarked on a weeklong Outward Trade and Investment Mission to the capital Lusaka and Kitwe.
Cameron said this in his address to South African business people who began the trade mission on Monday.
This as total exports to Zambia between the period of January-May 2019 amounted to R12.4 billion and total imports from Zambia amounted to R1.1 billion. Total trade amounted to R13.5 billion.
Addressing the trade imbalance
"These numbers depict a very unbalanced trade and which is a concern and important factor in the development of South Africa and Zambia trade relations," added Cameron.
He also told the businesspeople that a significant focus of the mission's trade promotion work included working with South African companies based in Zambia to expand the manufacturing of products that can form part of their local and regional value chains.
"Promoting industrialisation and creating a manufacturing base in Zambia can assist in balancing the trade imbalance. The Zambians have high regard for South Africa and appreciate interaction at all levels, and thus South Africa should continue to leverage this goodwill from the Zambians.
"I encourage you to maintain the good quality of products you trade with Zambia, form collaborations, invest in the country and include the locals in the value chain while doing it honestly and transparently," said Cameron.
The participating companies are funded by the dti through its Export Market and Invest Assistance scheme (EMIA). The scheme develops export markets for South African products and services and recruits new foreign direct investment into South Africa
State-owned development finance institutions such as the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa and the Industrial Development Corporation, and export councils such as the South African Electro-Technical Export Council, South African Capital Equipment Export Council, and the Steel Tube Export Association of South Africa are part of the delegation.
The trade mission will conclude on Friday.