Zambia’s largest export market in Africa has remained the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with exports to the DRC totalling over K10.7 billion in the six months ending June 2021.
However, successive Zambian governments have focused their efforts on strengthening diplomatic ties with western countries, some of which have little to no economic ties with Zambian businesses and citizens. This is one area where we should pay close attention to see if the Hakainde Hichilema Presidency makes a difference.
According to export data for the top ten export destinations from Zambia by volume and value in Africa obtained from the Zambia Statistical Agency (ZamStats) by the Zambian Business Times-ZBT between January 2021 to June 2021, Zambia’s exports to DRC were the highest in Africa were recorded at K10.7 billion (about US$700 million).
This re-affirms that DRC is the largest export destination for Zambia among the top ten African export destination countries. The other advantage of exports to African countries is that local businesses benefit when compared to exports to outside Africa destinations which mostly benefit foreign-owned multinational companies.
The top five products exported to DRC during the first half of 2021 which is the period under review included non-alcoholic beverages, Sulphur products, Portland cement and Detergents used for washing clothes, dishes and kitchen utensils.
Of the top five products exported to Congo DR, non-alcoholic beverages (drinks) accounted for about K1 billion, Sulphur products accounted for K976 million and Portland cement K730 million while detergents used for washing clothes, dishes and kitchen utensils accounted for K630 million and other products accounted for K6. 6 billion
South Africa, which enjoys a large trade advantage over Zambia was the second in the top 10-export destination for Zambian products accounting for over K3 billion during the first half of 2021. The Hichilema administration has a big task of negotiating aggressively with South Africa which has always found ways to use non-tariff barriers to block Zambian goods.
President Hichilema is yet to announce his trade Minister, a role that is responsible to turn around this sorry state of Zambia’s trade relations with the world. Local businesses and individuals expect that the new government will appoint a team and ministers at both ministries of trade and foreign affairs that would be able to handle this complex but attainable goal of re-setting Zambia’s bilateral and multilateral trade and economic relations.