CUTS optimistic about NTP, NEST
By Staff Reporter
The Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) is expectant that the just launched National Trade Policy (NTP) and the National Export Strategy (NEST) will promote domestic and international trade.
On April 2, 2019 the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry launched NTP and NEST, which CUTS national Coordinator Chenai Mukumba said with consumers being the ultimate beneficiaries of trade agreements, it was expected that the policy would provide access to a wide variety of more affordable goods.
“On 10 February, President Edgar Lungu signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) that envisions the liberalisation of both trade in goods and services in the first phase of negotiations, and will extend to investment, competition policy and intellectual property in the second phase,” she said.
She added that international trade between different countries wass an important factor in raising living standards, providing employment and enabling consumers to enjoy a greater variety of goods.
“The belief underpinning the AfCFTA is that consolidating Africa into one trade area provides greater opportunities for businesses and consumers alike, and increases the chance to support sustainable development in the world’s least developed region. To date, 18 countries have ratified the agreement. The agreement will only come into force when 22 countries have ratified,” she said.
“Before the agreement comes into force, Governments are responsible for setting an environment conducive for business and trade – with Zambia’s launch of the National Trade Policy, progress is being made towards ensuring a competitive and conducive trade environment is set.”
She said some of the NTP objectives include to streamline tariffs in order to increase the export of high value products and support the growth of infant industries.
Mukumba said another objectives are to promote safety and fair trading in the economy, safeguard local industry from the adverse effects of unfair trading practices, increase the participation of local businesses in the economy through preferential procurement.
“The National Export Strategy covering the period 2018 to 2022 will help actualise the National Trade Policy, enhancing Zambia’s export performance and aid the country in its road towards diversified exports which is vital for sustainable growth. Some of the NEST objectives include product and market diversification, value addition and enhanced productivity with an increased contribution of non-traditional exports to export earnings,” said Mukumba.
“While it is the responsibility of the government to create this enabling environment, it is the private sector’s responsibility to then drive economic growth using the tools afforded by such policies, in the interests of citizens and customers alike. Following the launch of the NTP, private sector has a key role to play in the achievement of the policy objectives. To achieve the success and implementation of this policy, government must actively engage with the private sector, allow them to share their reflections and on-ground experiences.”