Zambia – development cooperation for increased trade in goods

Zambia wants to increase trade with other countries. To help achieve this, the National Board of Trade Sweden and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry in Zambia began cooperating towards this goal in the spring of 2022. The aim is to strengthen the Ministry's capabilities in technical barriers to trade, so that Zambian companies have better prospects for participating in international trade.

The National Board of Trade cooperated with Zambia previously to develop trade programmes at a number of Zambian universities. This time, the focus is on trade in goods and strengthening the Zambian government in what are known as technical barriers to trade. The term describes regulations that should exist where they are necessary for safety or environmental reasons, for example, but should not exist where they are not needed. The cooperation runs for four years.

Strengthened competences and new working methods

The cooperation aims to strengthen the Ministry of Trade's competences and working methods in relation to the regulatory framework necessary to export Zambian goods to new markets. This involves, for example, ensuring that Zambian regulations for various goods are in line with international standards so as to avoid unnecessary barriers to trade. The project primarily aims to facilitate trade in Zambia's own region, Southern Africa. However, Zambia has also entered into international trade agreements. So, part of the cooperation focuses on how Zambia can implement and benefit from these agreements.

The ambition is to both increase and broaden Zambia's exports, and for the country to export more finished goods.

Anders Karlsson, expert on technical regulations

A new department for technical barriers to trade

Since the start of the cooperation, a new department responsible for technical barriers to trade has been staffed at the Ministry of Trade in Lusaka. The Department for Technical Regulation (DTR) has a seven-person staff and is tasked with disseminating knowledge to government agencies, trade organisations and businesses on how they can contribute to better product regulations. The department also examines product regulations that are developed and the design of regulations on how producers are to ensure that the products meet the requirements (referred to as conformity assessment). In the future, it will also be able to evaluate the impact of Zambian regulations and determine how regulations developed in other countries affect Zambian exports.

A coaching cooperation

The National Board of Trade's cooperation with the new department includes increasing its competence in analysing Zambia's and other countries' product regulations that affect trade. It also includes providing guidance on how tradeagreements that Zambia has entered into can become national working methods and new procedures. Anders Karlsson, an expert on technical regulations at the National Board of Trade, works on site in the new department. He emphasises that the approach is a coaching one: the National Board of Trade provides support and tools while the officials in the department carry out the work.

“It is a learning process. I act as a mentor who contributes factual knowledge, but it is the Zambian officials who are best at finding solutions based on the conditions in the country,” he says.

From raw materials to processed goods

The ambition is to both increase and broaden Zambia's exports, and for the country to export more finished goods. Today, the country mainly exports raw materials, such as copper and cobalt, while other countries produce the actual product and get the added value. By exporting finished goods, Zambian companies can charge more. The Zambian people also benefit from adapting goods for an international market, as safety requirements increase. This is often the case for both domestic products and export goods, as the requirements for export goods provide synergies for goods sold domestically.

“The closer to the end user and the greater the added value – the more important the role of regulations,” says Anders Karlsson.

Sustainability as a common thread

Sustainability is a common thread running through the cooperation. One of the National Board of Trade's most important tasks is to disseminate knowledge about Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). RIA involves analysing the consequences of a regulation in terms of costs and benefits in society, but should also address social, environmental and economic sustainability. The National Board of Trade also carries out other initiatives in the field of sustainability, such as mapping the knowledge of the subject at the institutional and individual level, giving lectures at universities, and holding workshops.

Zambia is a country with enormous potential and many well-educated people who can make a positive contribution to the country's development.

Anders Karlsson, expert on technical regulations

Goal: Sustainable growth and reduced poverty

Enhanced knowledge and new working methods will thus help integrate Zambia into international trade and increase exports in new sectors. The goal is sustainable and inclusive growth that reduces poverty in the country. Anders Karlsson has already seen great progress and is hopeful:
“Zambia is a country with enormous potential and many well-educated people who can make a positive contribution to the country's development,” Anders Karlsson concludes.