Vice President Mutale Nalumango has described the just ended inaugural European Union (EU) -Zambia Economic Forum as a successful meeting that will change the economic landscape of Zambia.
Mrs. Nalumango said the forum must be used as a springboard to strengthen and remodel the longstanding trade and investment relations between Zambia and the EU.
Speaking when she officially closed the EU-Zambia Economic Forum, Mrs. Nalumango urged Zambian businesses to take a leading role in forging partnerships with EU firms and penetrate the European market.
She said the new dawn administration is determined to make the private sector the engine of the country’s economic recovery through growth and job creation.
“I am extremely excited with what has gone on in this forum, I am pleased to announce that the inaugural European Union-Zambia Business Forum has been a success,” declared Mrs. Nalumango.
She said the new level of EU-Zambia engagement should move away from mere cooperating partnership to business cooperation.
Mrs. Nalumango has since directed the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to assist all EU companies that attended the economic forum to actualise their deals, partnerships and export undertakings.
Speaking earlier, Minister of Commerce, Chipoka Mulenga, said it is important that Zambia begins to add value to her raw materials to achieve increased benefits from a large market which is presented by one of the world’s largest economies.
Mr. Mulenga said government has provided a platform that promotes an enabling environment for private sector growth and the development of entrepreneurship to spur national economic development.
The Commerce Minister has since urged the EU business leaders that attended the economic forum to sample Zambia’s tourism by visiting Livingstone at the end of the meeting.
Acting Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Director, Alfred Halwampa, challenged the private sector to make the EU market Zambia’s new playground through exports.
“Zambia will make the EU a playground and ensure that goods are marketed there,” said Mr. Halwampa
He said ZDA is prepared to assist Zambian companies to meet EU market standards.
He said Zambia can triple her gross domestic product (GDP) from around US$30 billion to US$100 billion by actualising trade and investment partnerships with EU businesses.
Mr. Halwampa projected that in the next three years, Zambia should reach the levels of countries like Kenya that have aggressively penetrated the EU market and annually make US$300 million from exporting avocados and US$1.8 billion for flowers.
Deputy Head of the EU-Delegation to Zambia, Bruno Hanse, said the inaugural EU-Zambia economic forum has already produced results which need to be consolidated to bring about more benefits to Zambians.
Ambassador Hanse said Zambian businesses must engage in new partnerships to promote green growth in the economy.
He proposed that the forum should become a permanent feature to benefit both Zambian and EU businesses in unlocking and consolidating business opportunities.