Muvi TV, January 24, 2011

The United States government has raised concern on Zambia’s failure to capitalize on the Agriculture and Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) to increase its exports.

US Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella says Zambia has failed to increase its exports into the US owing to huge competition from neighbouring countries.

Mr. Storella says Zambia’s products are expensive compared to those from other countries as a result of high production costs.

He has expressed optimism that the forthcoming AGOA Forum to be held in the Zambian capital Lusaka in June will see the county taking advantage of it.

The Ambassador states that the country could take advantage of its landlocked nature by improving its infrastructure in the transport sector therefore increasing on exports.

He was speaking when he visited the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International Zambia office.

AGOA is a US government initiative aimed at increasing export of about 7,000 agro produce from African countries into the US through waiving of tariffs.

CUTS International Zambia office will host the secretariat for the 2011 AGOA Forum which will see about 37 African nations in attendance and high profile delegations from developed countries.

And speaking earlier CUTS International Zambia Executive Board Chairperson Love Mtesa thanked the US government for being among many stakeholders that have helped the organization in its mandate.

Mr. Mtesa said his organization has played a cardinal role in development of Zambia’s economy through participation in development of key laws such as the one on competition.

He said competition is vital in every economy as it helps consumers have a choice.

Mr. Mtesa added CUTS is looking forward to having sovereignty among consumers which will see them determining what is supposed to be produced and its quality.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Zambia has stated that US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will in a fortnight meet with that country’s diplomats accredited to Africa to lay down a 2011 strategy for the continent.

Mr. Storella however says that so far his government will be carrying out programs in three key areas namely health, food security and climate change.

He says his country is concerned with the future of Zambia’s food security hence conducting a program in line with that.

He says Zambia has a lot of abundant natural resources which would allow it become a regional food basket.

Mr. Storella further states that economic diversification to sectors such as telecommunication, and infrastructure development will help the nation improve.

He has also highlighted that climate change is an important program that is on his country’s agenda for Zambia.

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