Zambia SA’s top trading partner – Zuma

Visiting South African President, Jacob Zuma has disclosed that Zambia is his country’s top trading partner on the African continent.

And Zambia and South African have today signed six Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in the areas of health, agriculture, energy, mining, commerce and foreign affairs.

Mr. Zuma said South Africa was happy with the improved trade relations, noting that this would enhance further the already existing warm trade relations between the two countries.

He said the two countries already have well established trade relationship which however should be strengthened further to enhance their economic stamina.

He was speaking at State House in Lusaka today before and after holding private bilateral talks with President Rupiah Banda.

“We are generally happy with the direction that our trade relations are taking. In 2008, Zambia became our number one trading partner on the continent,” he said.

President Zuma said the two countries should however explore more investment opportunities for the benefit of their peoples.

Mr. Zuma, who arrived in the country yesterday in the company of eight ministers and a business delegation comprising representatives from 60 companies, said Zambia and South Africa need to cooperate in order to minimize the impact of the global economic recession.

He said South Africa’s major exports to Zambia include mineral oils and fuels, autos and components, chemicals, steel and capital equipment.

President Zuma noted that most of the people in the two countries were poor and marginalized hence the need to find ways of easing their sufferings at the hands of the global economic downturn.

He said the representatives of 60 companies that he has come with were interested in the energy, petroleum, information communication and technology (ICT), infrastructure, financial services, healthcare, mining and agro-processing.

He hoped that business seminars to be held between Zambian and South African business executives would result into stronger bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries.

“We should also work together to strengthen people-to-people contact through cultural, scientific and educational exchange programmes as well as encouraging two-way tourism,” he said.

And President Zuma has praised the Zambian government for promoting the growth of the agricultural sector in the country.

“With regard to agriculture, we congratulate Zambia on the growth of this sector, which has shown improvements despite heavy rains in 2008. This country managed to record a food surplus in the past three years. Thanks to the government’s seed and fertilizer programme,” he said.

The President of South Africa also restated his country’s indebtedness to Zambia for hosting that country’s liberation movements from various countries in the Southern African region.

He said despite meager resources, Zambia significantly assisted other countries in the region to gain their political independence.

“The long-standing Zambian support for the liberation struggle in South Africa led to the growth of deep mutual bonds between the peoples of South Africa and Zambia,” he said.

He was grateful that even after the countries gained political independence, Zambia continued to play an important role in conflict management and resolution in the continent through hosting refugees from many countries.

Meanwhile, Mr. Zuma has said African countries should continue to fight for equality and fairness in international relations in order for Africa to take its rightful place among other continents.

He said African countries should assume a common position and strengthen the international climate regime to ensure global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“We will go to Copenhagen next week and strongly push our position as the African continent,” he said.

And President Banda has expressed optimism that Zambia and South Africa would enhance their economic cooperation and growth through the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) which the two countries signed.

He said the MoUs must be implemented accordingly for the benefit of the people in the two countries.

Mr. Banda said the two countries have a lot of work to do in implementing the MoUs successfully and urged ministers in concerned ministries to work hard and ensure the commitments made succeeded.

He said the visit by President Zuma signified how deep the relations between the two countries were.

Meanwhile, Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kabinga Pande and his South African counterpart, signed an MoU on regular diplomatic consultations, while Commerce Minister Felix Mutati and his South African counterpart signed the MoU on trade and industrial cooperation.

Agriculture Minister Brian Chituwo and his South African counterpart signed an MoU on agriculture and livestock farming while Minister of Health Kapembwa Simbao and his South African counterpart signed an MoU on cooperation in the field of health.

Acting Minister of Energy, Ronald Mukuma and Minister of Mines Maxwell Mwale signed MoUs on energy and geology, minerals and mines respectively.

The MoUs are meant to strength cooperation in the six sectors and increase training, exchange of information, technology and technical assistance among other things.

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