ZAMBIA is a member of the global community and as such participates in international trade by exporting her products as well as importing some.
Because of being a global player, Zambia willingly joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an inter-governmental organisation that regulates international trade.
At continental level, the country has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA is the result of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a brainchild of all 55 members of the African Union.
It is anticipated to be the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the WTO.
Zambia is home to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, a free trade area with 21 member states stretching from Tunisia to eSwatini.
Through the Southern African Development Community, Zambia and 15 other southern African states have agreed to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation.
This means that Zambia is obliged to open its borders to foreign goods just as the country wishes to send her goods across its borders.
The influx of foreign goods seriously contributes to the growth of the country’s economy because they compete favourably with home-grown products.
In some cases, foreign goods and services land cheaply on the local market and this makes them attractive.
However, the onus lies with citizens to support locally produced goods. Therefore, the buy local campaign presents both economic and socio-cultural benefits.
On the socio-cultural front, it gives citizens some sense of pride and national identity by consuming what is their own. It is a symbol of nationalism.
That is why President Edgar Lungu has put up a strong case for the Buy Zambia Campaign by urging citizens to support local products.
The economic benefit of buying local products is that it helps make the country’s economy strong by creating jobs.
On the other hand, buying local products encourages establishment of home-grown companies which contribute to the treasury through paying taxes and other applicable fees.
Copperbelt University lecturer in economics and entrepreneurship Moffat Chawala says it is important to note though that despite the benefits presented by the buy local concept, there is need for local companies to market products that give value to consumers.
“Quality and competitive pricing must be at the core of these local companies for them to compete with foreign products. In terms of the concept working in Zambia, we still have a long way to go to change perceptions of Zambians who generally believe that local products are inferior to foreign products,” Mr Chawala says.
Attempts were made through the Buy Zambia Campaign to change these perceptions and a few gains were made but not very significant.
There is need, therefore, for the Zambia Association of Manufacturers, Zambia Institute of Marketing and Government to revamp this campaign so that local companies are supported and ultimately contribute to the country’s economy.
We urge citizens to heed President Lungu’s counsel by buying locally produced goods to enhance private sector development and safeguard the economy from external shocks.
So this Buy Zambia Campaign must be encouraged more so for the benefit of our economy if we have to be truly liberated.