Monday, September 22, 2008

Civic leader welcomes COMESA FTA

September 19, 2008 - Lusaka Times

Chipata Mayor Sinoya, Mwale, has welcomed the move by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA, to formalise small scale trade among member countries.

Mr Mwale said the development, facilitated by the Free Trade Are, FTA arrangment, would given cross border traders increased benefits of free border entries among member countries.

He was speaking during the launch of a sensitization workshop on COMESA Simplified Trade Regime today in Chipata.

He observed that lack of awareness on the part of cross border traders as regards the ebenefits of FTA, resulted in traders employing unauthorized channels as desperate measures of evading tax payment even in cases were goods would enjoy tax exempt.

“They are not aware about the limits of value on commodities that are subject to duty and prefer to use the Zalewa (dodge) route to evade tax,” he said.

Mr Mwale said there was need to ensure that people engaged in trade were knowledgeable about the Law in relation to their operations.

“People need to understand there are limitations on commodities that are subject to duty,” he said.

And speaking at the same function, COMESA-Africa Capacity Building Foundation, ACBF, Consultant, John Chirwa observed that cross-border trade which is accounts for up to 35 per cent value of formal trade.

He said there was need to educate traders on the COMESA trade protocols and treaties to establish trade centers in COMESA countries.

“This will enhance their businesses because they will have a clear understanding of international business and the FTA among COMESA countries which can help maximize their business which may lead to increased employment opportunities and increase the growth of the economy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cross Boarder Trade Association of Zambia Chairman General, Celeste Mwanakisi, said Zambia could not benefit from the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime unless people have information pertaining to customs regulations and COMESA trade policies especially on the FTA.

Mr Mwanakisi appealed to local authorities to accord the cross boarder traders support in order to facilitate the smooth running of small scale cross border trade.