The Policy Monitoring and Research Center has recommended that the Government through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry should build the capacity of Zambian firms to compete in the continental market.
Analyzing the Continental Free Trade Area and how it can benefit Zambia, Zambia must prepare for the various potential challenges that she may face.
PMRC Executive Director Bernadette Deka says manufacturing industries will need to be strategically considered by promoting value addition, as this is the sure way Zambia can benefit.
Ms Deka further recommends that the government should implement strategic policies to encourage investment in the manufacturing sector.
She adds that special focus should be given to Industrial policy, Trade policy and other policies related to cost and ease of doing business.
“Government must prioritize sectors where Zambia has a comparative advantage and build domestic production capacity e.g. Agro-processing and Mining. There is a need to increase sensitization on the CFTA and promote building consensus and understanding the impact of Zambia joining. This would also adequately equip businesses and manufacturers to strategically position themselves and benefit from CFTA,” she said.
Ms Deka states that there is a need to identify products that will be floated on the CFTA market.
“In order to prepare for the potential increase of migration, various policies may be developed. These policies must be set up in such a way that Zambian citizens are protected from loss of employment, and that immigration of skilled labour is encouraged to ensure that the benefits of these skills are harnessed,” she submitted.
Ms Deka further added as the region becomes a large single market, competition is likely to increase for Zambian producers in particular.
“It is essential for Zambian producers and businesses to be able to survive in this very competitive market. Research on the potential demands of products that Zambia may have a comparative advantage in should be carried out to ensure necessary targeting is done. This will give Zambia an advantage as it services varying customers in different countries,” she said.
The PMRC Executive Director is also of the view that Zambia can also mobilize domestic resources in such a way that it can survive the potential short-term losses that come with developing the CFTA.