By DERRICK SILIMINA
The Zambia China Cross-Border E-Commerce Industrial Park is becoming a possibility after the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ), China Commodities City Overseas Investment (CCCI) and the Belt and Road Joint Research Centre (BRJRC) of the University of Zambia.
And the newly-appointed Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga has described the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) as the engine of the Zambian economy.
Speaking during the virtual signing Ceremony, ZDA Director-General Mukula Makasa said the purpose of the MOU was to establish a framework of collaboration aimed at fostering trade relations between China and Zambia through the establishment of an e-Commerce Industrial Park.
“The signing of the MoU came in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, Africa 2063 Agenda and the Belt and Road Initiative from China as well as the China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing summit call for action.
All this well in line withS advancing trade relations and promotion of e-commerce and facilitating market linkages of products produced by MSMEs to international buyers through online platforms,” Makasa said.
He noted that the areas of cooperation included among others the establishment of:
Tthe China-Zambia Cross-Border E-Commerce Training Centre and international influencers’ incubation base.
Makasa disclosed that the institutions in question hope to collaborate on the training of Aambia’s well performing micro, small medium enterprises (MSMEs) and outstanding college students to study in China, in order to master the practical skills of e-commerce.
The Director-General stated that the collaboration would also facilitate market linkages of products produced by Zambian MSMEs to international buyers through an online portal.
Other areas of collaboration include the establishment of:
The African boutique products exhibition hall and commodity wholesale trading market, with platform for the exportation of high-quality Zambian agricultural side-line products and industrial finished products to neighbouring countries and the Chinese market.
The Zambia-China Cross-border e-commerce Logistics warehousing trade platform to enable and ease the completion of product transactions and distribution of bonded goods from Zambia, China and the neighboring countries stored in the bonded library through the electronic logistics trade supervision system.
The establishment of a Customs commodity inspection one-stop service centre to ensure that Zambia customs and commodity inspection functions are built into the Chambishi and Lusaka East MFEZ to improve the efficiency of comprehensive customs clearance of goods.
Makasa has expressed hope that the initiative will result in tangible and meaningful trade and investment deals in addition to the transfer of skills for all involved, especially the MSMEs.
ZCCZ Chairman Oscar Liao stated that the Chinese economic precinct is composed of two zones with different functions and positioning, operated in the mode of “one zone and two MFEZs”, including Chambishi MFEZ in Copperbelt Province and Lusaka East MFEZ in Lusaka Province.
Liao disclosed that as of June 2021, the total number of enterprises in ZCCZ reached 77, with cumulative sales revenue of more than 22 billion U.S. dollars and cumulative tax and revenue of more than 800 million U.S. dollars, driving local employment to nearly 10,000.
He observed that in the new era of China-Africa cooperation development, ZCCZ plans to upgrade the zone into a comprehensive free trade zone in southern central Africa.
“We firmly believe that ZCCZ will continue to flourish in the new era of China-Africa cooperation,” Liao said.
Speaking at the same event, CCCI African Region General Manager Jack Gao said his company, a leading enterprise in the field of trade and commerce in China, aimed to serve the global small, medium enterprises, and build a shared trade service platform.
Gao disclosed that his company had 75,000 booths and sold 2.1 million items from 26 commodity categories and had trade contacts with more than 200 countries and regions around the world.
He said CCCI digital trade hub remained committed to facilitating import and export between Yiwu China and hub-countries, providing one-stop windows service to help MSMEs sell products in China and help overseas SMEs to buy from China easily.
BRJRC Co-Director Andy Liuzhao said the Belt and Road Joint Research Centre (BRJRC) of the University of Zambia is the first specialized research institution on the Belt and Road in Zambia, jointly established by the University of Zambia and the Belt and Road Institute of Science and Technology of Zambia.
Liuzhao said the centre will focus on training of human resource for cross-border e-commerce in China and Zambia, creation of local Zambian celebrities, and promotion of the development of China-Zambia e-commerce industrial park in collaboration with others.
And, newly appointed Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga has described the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) as the Engine of the Zambian economy.
Speaking during a familiarization tour of the Agency, Mulenga urged the Agency to intensify investment promotion, both local direct investment and foreign direct investment as well as export promotion.
He observed that the country was in dire need of new investments and increased exports for job and wealth creation. Gabby, adding that government was in a hurry to bring development, create jobs, provide social amenities and elevate the living standards of all Zambians.
He pledged government’s commitment to creating a conducive and enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“I implore ZDA to hold the investors accountable by ensuring that pledged investments were actualized,” Mulenga said.
He appealed to the Agency to promote as much as possible, local investors considering that they do not externalize their profits but invest within the country.
Mulenga assured ZDA Management that he would look into the Agency’s funding problems urging ZDA to optimize the meagre resources at its disposal, to discharge its functions with excellence.
And speaking at the same event, ZDA Board Chairperson Bishop David Masupa who thanked the Minister for his visit, bemoaned the funding challenges that bedeviled the Agency; explaining that it negatively affected the Agency’s performance and operations.