The Regional Trade Facilitation Forum in Lusaka is working to strengthen food trade linkages between southern African countries.
More than 195 maize and other grain commodity traders attended the meeting where buyers and sellers signed trade deals valued at US$100 million for the export of grain commodities.
The forum was organised by the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) in collaboration with the Zambia Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE), with support of USAID’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and USAID’s Southern African Trade and Investment Hub.
While East Africa faces a shortage in food grain, including maize, soybeans and other grain, southern Africa has a more positive outlook.
Yohaness Assefa, director of Agriculture and Agribusiness with the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub said 1.3 million families in the region will have access to affordable staple food, thanks to the more than 380 000 million tons of grain traded during the forum.
Gerald Masila, EAGC Executive Director, called on policy makers and the private sector to work together to reduce barriers to grain trade for the realization of economic growth and increased productivity.
Meanwhile, Zambia can look forward to favourable maize conditions and is expected to record a tradeable surplus of 3.2 million tons this year.
“ZAMACE committed to provide warehouse certification services and the issuance of negotiable warehouse receipts to the stakeholders,” said Jacob Mwale, Executive Director of ZAMACE.
Meanwhile, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) continues to support the elimination of barriers to regional trade and allows the easy movement of commodities through borders, particularly through the COMESA Regional CAADP Compact.
“As a government we declare that we will no longer have any export bans, and we announce the removal of 10% export tax on all grain commodities. We ensure the simplification of export documents and also commit to work with all governments in the region to support regional trade and to reduce on the rules on the certificate of origin,” said Felix Mutati, Zambian Minister of Finance.