The 18th World Export Development Forum (WEDF) was opened on Tuesday by Zambian Vice President Inonge Wina; Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Christopher Yaluma, and Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre. More than 1,400 delegates from more than 70 countries are attending the two-day event in Lusaka, Zambia.
Hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, participants would be exploring how trade can work for the 99 per cent and be made more inclusive, especially for youth and women. This would all be discussed under the theme ‘Scaling Up Through Trade: Skill, Innovate, Connect’.
Opening the event, Wina said: ‘In Zambia, we are stepping up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of our micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and anchor them to multinationals, which will help increase exports and job creation, and ensure more sustainable growth.
“WEDF18 provides an opportunity to discuss challenges shared by other countries, share best practices and learn from one another.’
In her opening remarks, González pointed out that the WEDF was an arena where trade policy concerns meet business practice.
It is a conversation about what is working – and what needs to be improved – to make international markets work better for MSMEs and sustainable development.
Pointing to Africa’s untapped potential, González said: “Continent-wide economic integration will create a larger market than that available in individual African countries or regions.
“For African businesses, this promises in turn to enable the productivity gains that come with increased scale and specialisation. For African consumers, it promises wider choices and better prices.
“The evidence suggests that when African countries trade with each other, the goods they exchange are more sophisticated than those they export to the rest of the world,” she said.
González said that as others seek to retreat from international cooperation, African governments are moving forward. ‘African countries have recognised the opportunities offered by open trade exceed the downsides,’ she said.
Yaluma pointed to the need to empower Zambia’s women in trade.
“We are determined to protect and promote Zambia’s women entrepreneurs and can play a greater role in our country’s exports,” he said.
During the two-day event, business leaders, policymakers and youth from around the world will explore a range of trade-related issues, including agribusiness, investment and the African Continental Free Trade Area.