Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'Most trade policies have caused poverty'

'Most trade policies have caused poverty'
By Nomusa Michelo
Wednesday November 28, 2007 [03:00]

CIVIL Society Trade Network of Zambia (CSTNZ) national coordinator Savior Mwambwa has said most trade policies implemented in the country have led to food insecurity. Speaking after a dissemination workshop for the Food Basket Study at Cresta Golf View Hotel yesterday, Mwambwa said trade arrangements signed by the government have taken people back to poverty.

“Most of the trade liberalisation policies that we have been implementing as a country, and also have been negotiated under the World Trade Organisation have led to loss of food security,” he said.

“Most people have gone back into poverty. When you look at maize, before we did not import so much maize, but now we importing maize so even those farmers who grow maize at a small scale cannot sell their maize.”

Mwambwa said despite measures such as the maize floor price issued by the government, small-scale farmers are still exploited.

“And now what will happen with the new Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs,) if they are signed in the current form, they will open up our markets and we will have to compete with cheap European products,” he said.

“But you see, the standards are different. It means I won’t be able to export my products at a cheap price because I am small-scale, my goods will be too expensive.”

And presenting the findings of the study, Dorothy Nthani said the playing field for trade within the country and across borders is still uneven.

“Zambia, especially the rural areas have poor infrastructure hence cannot compete favourably on the international market,” she said.

She said owing to the high tax rates pertaining in Zambia, Zambian products tend to be expensive. Nthani also said the wide availability of products works negatively of innovation in terms of developing local industry.

“Sustainable development must work in tandem with active participation of local people in creating local industries in order to reduce poverty,” said Nthani.

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