By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
COUNTRIES in the Southern and African Region Community (SADC) and other trading blocs should open borders to promote the integration agenda as the Covid-19 vaccine is being rolled out.
Borders should be open as governments harmonise policies and improve business among countries in the same regional block if regional integration is to be attained.
This is according to the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association (SACBTA) Secretary General, Jacob Makambwe.
Mr Makambwe said in an interview that opening up borders would also support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which Zambia recently ratified.
“The closure of borders within the SADC region has affected the small scale traders especially. We have seen the rolling out of the vaccines in many countries but we are still wondering how countries within the SADC region would not consider to open borders.
“So what we are calling for is for countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe must open the borders for the movement of goods and services. This is going to affect the regional integration agenda,” he said.
He said traders were willing to be vaccinated so that they could continue trading.
Mr Makambwe complained that the extended lockdown had affected the clearing of goods as there was more demand for the certificate of origin which most small-scale traders do not have access to.
This, he explained, was because of the simplified trade certificate which was not provided at the border posts because most information desks do not have people due to lockdowns.
The certificate is provided under the Simplified Trade Regime which is an arrangement implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa members to formalise and improve the performance of the small-scale cross border traders.
“Another challenge that we have is that many countries have continued to extend the lockdowns that has affected the clearing of goods because there is more on the demand of the certificate of origin which most of our small scale traders have no reach.
“The simplification of simplified trade certificate is not provided at the border because there is not trade information trade desk because borders are still closed,” Makambwe said.