Tomorrow President Lungu continues on his endeavours to accentuate Zambia’s diplomatic identity in the Great Lakes Region as he visits the Republic of Uganda. The President will be in the midst of several Heads of State and dignitaries attending the inauguration of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
While in Uganda, the President will also engage his colleague in trade talks under the Comesa Region umbrella and trade structures. Zambia seeks to deepen economic diplomacy with the Republic of Uganda as we recognize the need to understand new topics in international trade and new forums of economic diplomacy as envisaged by trade groupings like Comesa to which both Zambia and Uganda belong. In recent years, the Comesa Region has continued to achieve growth rates of around 5%, well above the world average of around 2%. The region, however, still relies heavily on the production of primary products such as tobacco and groundnuts with big investments of capital intensive extractive industries concentrated only in a few countries.
There is, therefore, a strong need and opportunity for the Region to embark on a wider diversification from production of primary products to non-primary and preferably processed products if the Region is to realise continued upward growth trends. Such diversification will lead to job creation, partly solving the unemployment problem that the region experiences. Thus our President’s talks with his colleague in Uganda will seek to draw sharp focus on ways in which our two countries can derive maximum benefit from the Comesa Region trade structures and further enhance our unique comparative advantages so as to create jobs for our two peoples.
To further our economic diplomacy efforts, President Lungu is also scheduled to undertake a State Visit to Saudi Arabia on 16th May 2016 at the invitation of His Majesty King Sulman Bin Abdullaziz Al Saudi and Custodian of the two Most Holy Mosques of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to explore trade links with that Kingdom and open the Middle East corridor which has remained largely unexplored.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a population of 27.3 million people and its net imports in the recent past has stood well over US$150 billion with Iron and Steel accounting for 4% of the total imports and Cereals accounting for 3%. The Kingdom is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum products, and is the second largest oil producer after Russia. Clearly, this is fertile grounds for Zambia from both an export and import perspective and we prod the President for identifying this very important economic corridor.