The effects of COVID-19 on global economies requires innovative solutions, says Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina.
She said that while interventions have been put in place by governments across the world to stem the tide of the pandemic, some interventions have caused significant disruptions in the production, supply and flow of critical goods and services across borders.
"This is having a detrimental effect on our respective economies and threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. The economic fall-out from this pandemic is imposing additional pressure on the already fragile and overstretched public purse. It is leading to lower private sector investment expenditure and it is cutting household income. This diminishes the growth prospect of our countries and is eroding the progress achieved in our fight against poverty," she said.
The Deputy Minister said this at the start of a two-day virtual Trade and Investment seminar with Zambia on Thursday.
The seminar, hosted under the theme "Developing Afrocentric solutions and forging partnership in response to COVID 19", aims to mobilise South African and Zambian business communities to consider taking up investment opportunities in both countries and to build on previous Outward Trade and Investment Missions held in Zambia between 2015 and 2019.
Gina has called for higher levels of collaboration.
"Firstly, I call for higher levels of cooperation and collaboration across the board. Secondly, the recently adopted Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines on harmonisation and facilitation of cross-border transport operations across the region, during COVID-19 pandemic must provide a solid foundation for our two countries to find a common ground," she said.
She urged the two countries to adopt a bilateral economic cooperation model that could turn the pandemic from a dilemma into an opportunity to change the structure of the two countries' economic relations.
"We need to act with urgency," said Gina.
The Deputy Minister had high expectations that the seminar would come up with practical and realistic solutions to ensure that there was a movement from discussion to execution as soon as possible.
South Africa's main exports to Zambia include machinery and mechanical appliances, base metals, mineral products, products of the chemical or allied industries. South Africa also exports plastics and articles thereof, vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment.
The seminar will conclude on Friday, 10 July 2020.