The devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic suffered by our economies compels us to swiftly formulate innovative solutions that will manage and minimise the negative effects of the virus on our respective economic, cultural investment, political and trade relations. This was said by the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina, during a virtual Trade and Investment seminar which focused on investment opportunities available in South Africa and Zambia, which took place today.
The seminar, hosted under the theme Developing Afrocentric solutions and forging partnership in response to COVID 19, was undertaken with the goal of mobilising South African and Zambian business communities to consider taking up investment opportunities in both countries and to build-up on previous Outward Trade and Investment Missions held in Zambia between 2015 and 2019.
Gina conceded that while interventions undertaken by the respective governments were totally legitimate in stemming the tide of the Covid-19 pandemic, some had caused significant disruptions in the production, supply and flow of critical goods as well as services across borders.
“This is having a detrimental effect on our respective economies and threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. The economic fall-out from this pandemic is imposing additional pressure on the already fragile and overstretched public purse. It is leading to lower private sector investment expenditure and it is cutting household income. This diminishes the growth prospect of our countries and is eroding the progress achieved in our fight against poverty,” she said.
Gina stressed that the response to this pandemic had to be on par with the challenges and further suggested practical actions that could be considered during the virtual seminar.
“Firstly, I call for higher levels of cooperation and collaboration across the board. Secondly, the recently adopted Southern African Development Community guidelines on harmonisation and facilitation of cross-border transport operations across the region during Covid-19 pandemic must provide a solid foundation for our two countries to find a common ground and adopt a bilateral economic cooperation model that could turn this pandemic from a dilemma into an opportunity to change the structure of our economic relations. Thirdly, we need to act with urgency” said Gina.
She added that she had high expecttions that the seminar would come up with practical and realistic solutions to ensure that there was a movement from discussion to execution as soon as possible.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, South Africa.