President Michael Sata has arrived in Brussels, Belgium to attend the fourth Africa EU heads of States Summit.
He arrived today at 14:30 and was received by senior government officials.
President Sata is accompanied by commerce minister Robert Sichinga and foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba.
Aambia’s Ambassador to Belgium Grace Kabwe said there were several engagements for President Sata.
President Sata is scheduled to meet Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Union President, King Philippe of Belgium and the Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk for talks here in Brussels.
And Ambassador Kabwe said Zambia was committed to meeting and concluding a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe after certain issues are addressed.
She said that Zambia was committed to EPAs that delivered best results for Africa and Zambia.
She said the summit was important for Africa and Europe to meet, reassess and look at the partnerships.
“To look at how they are going to work together, how they are going to move forward together,” she said.
Ambassador Kabwe said there would be about 40 to 43 African heads of state and about 20 from Europe.
“This summit is beneficial in that the two parties have been partners for a very long time. This is the time to reassess,” she said.
Zambia belongs to an EPA configuration called ESA. ESA is a composition of 11 countries which include Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan and Malawi.
Ambassador Kabwe said so far, four members had ratified and would like to start implementing these EPAs but the other seven were committed to comprehensive EPAs.
She said there were some contentious issues that ESA had identified that LDCs needed to be addressed before they could put market offers on the table.
“We insist on having policy space on taxes which our counterparts are not agreeing with because they are saying we can raise funds from other sources. But we are saying that the taxes are what are going to help us industrialise. They are the ones that are going to help us maintain the social amenities in the countries. There is also the issue of agriculture, having an EPA development fund,” Ambassador Kabwe said.
“For us to be able to trade on fair ground with EU, we need to upscale. We need to add value to our raw products. We need these funds to be able to upgrade our SMEs, our private sector which are the engines of growth. We are at a standstill as of now but we are committed to meeting and concluding a comprehensive EPA as Zambia and as ESA.”