ZAMBIA – Zambia is not expected to relax its rules on the importation of wheat flour from other Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states as it looks to protect the local industry and economy, according to an article on Lusaka Times.

Speaking at the SADC 30th meeting of the committee of Ministers of Trade held in Pretoria, South Africa, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Christopher Yaluma said the decision to maintain strict laws aims to protect and benefit the local economy.

Zambia’s decision which was accepted by the SADC Secretariat was reached after the government pledged to ensure that local businesses and manufacturing sectors were active participants in regional and international trade.

The minister noted that Zambia will exercise caution while adopting international trade treaties that were not favorable to the country and that it needed more time to make extensive consultation with several local stakeholders before adopting some international trade agreements.

The country has rejected previous calls by SADC member states to relax wheat flour import rules.

Costly imports

Zambia which consumes an average of 540,000 tons of wheat per annum had to import 150,000 tons as a stop-gap measure after experiencing a deficit of 250,000 tons in the last season.

In 2015, the government allowed the importation of 75,000 tonnes of wheat, costing it about US$40 million.

Possible shortage in March that year also saw the government remove a 15% duty on imports from non-SADC and non-COMESA countries.

The sector has grown over the past years and has contributed to the country as an export earner to provide a huge saving on the import bill, also contributing positively to the growth of the economy.