By Chambwa Moonga
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says his administration will be anchored on trade and investment.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trade envoy to Zambia Laurence Robertson says the United Kingdom is looking across the world to strengthen trade links in every country.
Accompanied by British High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley and UK director of trade – mining Sally Bevington, Robertson paid a courtesy call on President Hichilema at State House this afternoon.
The President remarked that: “we are grateful to have you here for many reasons, some are obvious.
“But one which is important for us is that trade and investment is the basis upon which we were elected into office by the people of Zambia – to change, to drive the economy for opportunity,” said President Hichilema.
“That’s only possible on the platform of trade and investment. So, we are really pleased to have you. We are grateful to the British government – the Prime Minister for sending you here.”
Robertson told President Hichilema that he was appointed as trade envoy to Zambia by Prime Minister Johnson at the end of last year.
“But the Covid restrictions meant that it wasn’t possible to visit Zambia before now, although I have held numerous Zoom meetings with a number of politicians and businesses here,” Robertson said.
“But can I congratulate you on your success in the recent election…. We are delighted as the United Kingdom if we can be a partner of [trade] choice to you. We have, of course, very strong historical links which we want to take forward.”
He stressed the importance that the UK government places on trade.
Robertson also indicated that the UK is quite recognised as always having been a worldwide trading nation.
“We are very proud of that background. But also more recently, since the electorates of the United Kingdom took the decision to leave the European Union, while obviously we’ll retain close ties, in terms of trade and cooperation with the European countries, we are looking across the world to strengthen trade links in every country,” he noted
“The Prime Minister has appointed a number of trade envoys with that purpose in mind, and I’m privileged to be one of them. This is my first visit to Zambia [but] it won’t be the last one. In fact, I had the privilege of meeting a couple of your ministers so far. This week I’ll be visiting three different areas as part of what is really…. The visit is particularly focused on the mining industry – not exclusively but that’s the focus of this visit. Future visits will look into different industries, I’m sure.”
He added that the UK recognises the vital role which the mining industry plays in Zambia.
“We are accompanied on the visit by eight British companies who are already trading in Zambia. Because of the Covid restrictions which were only lifted yesterday, in terms of the red zone, we were not able to bring all the companies. But I can assure you that very many companies are interested to coming to Zambia,” said Robertson.
Meanwhile, Bevington said: “the UK has had a long history and it obvious that Zambia would want to partner with the UK companies, in all forms of the industry from extracting, processing, selling.”
“We look forward to having a long and prosperous history with you, which we already have done. Mining is understandingly a crucial part of your economic plan, and it’s crucial plan of the forward going forward, in terms of renewables,” said Bevington.
The Head of State later held a closed-door meeting with Robertson and his delegation.
Others present in the meeting were foreign affairs and international cooperation minister Stanley Kakubo, commerce, trade and industry minister Chipoka Mulenga, commerce permanent secretary Mushuma Mulenga, Ministry of Commerce director – foreign trade Bessie Chelemu and some presidential aides.
Source: The Mast