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Investing in improving trade in Zambia works

Trade is a driver of economic growth and development, and vital in the fight against poverty. The Dutch government supports trade facilitation in developing countries for example through the World Bank Trade Facilitation Support Program. A visit to Zambia, with World Bank and other developing partners, showed good results of the program and clear progress in making trade work in Zambia.

Zambia is eager to improve its business climate and increase its trade. Ministry of Commerce Permanent Secretary Mrs. Kayula Siame: “With support of the TFSP the Government has enacted the Border Management and Trade Facilitation Bill 2018 to effectively facilitate trade”. In addition a new National Trade Policy and Export Strategy was launched just last week, serving as a blue print for government activities in growing the trade sector.

Zambia ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement on December 15, 2015. As part of its action plan, the Government of Zambia began an ambitious reform agenda that extended automation from the Zambia Revenue Authority to other trade related agencies, established a National Trade Facilitation Committee, improved border agency coordination, and implemented risk management for inspections.

Making trade work in Zambia

The Trade Facilitation Support Program (TFSP) supports Zambia in improving trade facilitation and border management procedures, which will expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods by aligning trade procedures with the TFA. This resulted in clear benefits for the Government: reduction of mandatory processing time from 48 hours to 12 hours and now to 8 hours for border agencies and an increase in government revenues of 41% in 2018.

With support of TFSF a National Trade Facilitation Committee was established, chaired by the Secretary to Cabinet and with representation of all trade related Government agencies and since recently also private sector organizations. This coordinating mechanism has kick-started the implementation of one stop border posts, the introduction of a Single Payment Point and the facilitation of broader connectivity of all government agencies to the Single Window. Examples of successful interventions that have resulted in substantial reduction in customs clearance time and other direct and indirect costs associated with cross border trade in Zambia. This has contributed to positive impact for businesses & consumers, such as improved of transparency, increased predictability for doing business and private sector savings.

The Chirundu border between Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Chirundu border post - main border crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe and the busiest border of Zambia - processes imports and exports between the two countries but is also a gateway for Zambia and the DRC to other African countries and the rest of the world through the seaports in South Africa. The border post has a steady volume of traffic of around 450 trucks a day. Data on numbers of small-scale traders and women traders passing this border post are not available.

The one stop border post at Chirundu has reduced the time and cost for traders to move goods across the border by improving border management and operations. This was done by combining the activities of the two countries’ border agencies in common control zones.

On the day of the visit it was quiet at the border post. Cyclone Idai hitting Beira port in Mozambique and also damaging inland roads and bridges in Mozambique and Zimbabwe has directly affected trade at the Chirundu border. The border post director worrying: “This week is very quiet, but in one or two weeks all delayed trucks will arrive at Chirundu, posing a challenge for quick clearance”. And female cross-border trader Esther Mambue of the Cross-border Trade Association (with 70% of the members being women) commented: “At the moment there is less trade at the Chirundu border because of the economic crisis in Zimbabwe”.