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Statement by the United States at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Zambia

U.S. Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Christopher Wilson at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Zambia

Geneva, Switzerland
June 21, 2016

*As Delivered*

Thank you, Chair.  The United States would like to welcome the Deputy Minister and the entire delegation from Lusaka on the occasion of Zambia’s fourth WTO Trade Policy Review.

We appreciate the Government of Zambia and the WTO Secretariat reports.  Each describes the various challenges that Zambia must overcome and the questions it must address in order to achieve more effective participation in the global trading system, and to use trade as an instrument for realizing greater economic growth and development.

Zambia has made noteworthy progress since its last trade policy review in 2009.  It has continued to witness economic growth – averaging 6.6 percent since 2009 despite a slowdown in 2015.  As the Secretariat’s report points out, lower global demand and prices for copper in 2015 coupled with technical difficulties in Zambia’s mining sector reflect Zambia’s continuing overreliance on copper and mining for the nation’s economic growth, and the negative impact the sector can play on the nation’s well-being during down times.  But we also recognize the Government of Zambia’s efforts to implement reforms aimed at improving the business environment and attracting foreign investment to help boost the country’s competitiveness and diversify its economy.

The United States enjoys a vibrant bilateral trade relationship with Zambia.  Two-way United States-Zambia goods trade totaled $143 million in 2015 – a 112 percent increase since the last review, mainly due to an increase in U.S. imports of jewelry from Zambia, as well as an increase in U.S. exports of a variety of manufactured products.  Zambia is eligible for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which has been extended through 2025.  In recent years, substantially all U.S. imports from Zambia have entered the United States duty-free, under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), zero-duty most-favored-nation provisions and, to a lesser extent, AGOA.

During the period of review, Zambia exported a very limited number of products to the United States under the provisions of AGOA.  We encourage the Government of Zambia to develop an AGOA utilization strategy to take better advantage of the program, and as called for in the latest AGOA legislation.  In this connection, we are pleased to note our partnership with Zambia under Trade Africa, which is an initiative launched during the Obama Administration aimed at increasing African regional trade, as well as trade with the United States.  Under our Trade Africa partnership with Zambia, we are committed to working with the Government of Zambia not only to help it make greater use of the benefits of AGOA to increase bilateral trade, but also to help it improve its capacity to boost regional trade and make the most of the opportunities afforded by its membership in the WTO.

We are also pleased to note that Zambia is involved in two other major initiatives related to economic growth and development:  the Millennium Challenge Account, administered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Feed the Future, the United States’ global hunger and food security initiative.  In 2012, Zambia signed an MCC compact, which entered into force in 2013.  The $355 million compact will help improve drainage, water and sanitation in the capital city of Lusaka, as well as the Government of Zambia’s ongoing efforts at water sector reform.  Zambia is also a partner in the U.S. Feed the Future Initiative, which aims to decrease hunger and poverty by improving food security.  We look forward to our work and increased cooperation with Zambia as it moves ahead to boost its food security.

We enthusiastically commend Zambia’s ratification of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), as noted in the Secretariat’s report.  The TFA will set the stage for more efficient customs and border procedures and coordination in Zambia.  We stand ready to work with Zambia to ensure its timely implementation of the agreement.

We agree with the Secretariat’s report that Zambia’s participation in the multilateral trading system remains limited.  We encourage Zambia to continue to work towards establishing a transparent trade policy process that will allow for more active engagement in the multilateral trading system and more follow-up on multilateral issues, recognizing the capacity challenges Zambia faces.  We also encourage Zambia to continue efforts to improve implementation of the WTO agreements, including the Customs Valuation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS), and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreements.

We also want to acknowledge our appreciation for the thorough responses Zambia provided to our written questions. 

To conclude, the United States stands ready to work with Zambia, and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this review of Zambia’s trade policy.  We look forward to our dialogue with the government, both within the WTO and on a bilateral basis.

Thank you, and we wish you a successful Trade Policy Review.