Zambians attend African trade fair in scattered ranks

Cairo- Egypt (PANA) -- Zambian exhibitors are attending the All Africa Trade Fair in dispersed ranks with the last group arriving at the Cairo fair grounds a week into the event.
Export promotion councils and chambers of commerce were entrusted with the task of co-ordinating the country's participation in the fair.
However, it was not until last Saturday that Grace Njapau of G and G Export/Import Enterprise flew in to join four other Zambian exhibitors at the fair.
"Initially I was hesitant about coming after word reached me of difficulties exhibitors were encountering with Egyptian customs.
But, on second thoughts, I decided to give it a try," she told PANA.
However, the majority of stalls at the Zambian stand remained vacant after seven other registered exhibitors from the country recoiled upon learning of the rub with customs in Cairo.
The five that are in Cairo are G and G Export/Import, Kpacha Investment, Othniel Enterprises, G and D Export/Import and Mimi Arts and Craft, a member of the Cross-Border Association of Zambia.
The first of the Zambian exhibitors to hit Cairo arrived as early as 19 March, and has been in the Egyptian capital since then.
"We came initially for the Cairo International Trade Fair that lasted from 20-30 March," Mimi Arts and Craft director Gift Mwambazi told PANA at the weekend, adding " we, however, failed to take part in the fair because our goods arrived after the show.
" To avoid overspending, Mwambazi said she and her assistants decided to rent a flat and stay put for the All Africa Trade Fair.
Reiterating the grudge exhibitors hold against Egyptian customs, Mwambazi said she had so far managed to clear just a little over half of the tonnage she brought for the fair, after paying part of duties totalling 2,000 US dollars.
Also citing preferential trade terms between Zambia and Egypt within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), she said the Egyptian authorities had agreed to consider the Certificate of Origin for Zambian exhibits.
"They are consequently recalculating our duties, and we expect a sharp drop as was the case with the Zimbabweans whose customs charges fell from 10,000 dollars to 3,000 dollars after being reviewed on COMESA terms," Mwambazi said.
Zambian exhibits at the fair, which has now been extended by three days, are exclusively of handicrafts.
"Handicrafts are a big attraction to the Egyptians," Mwambazi explained, affirming that sales have been quite encouraging, and that she had received several orders.
She said the run of business at the fair could have been even better, had Egyptian authorities given the event sufficient publicity.
"The All Africa Trade Fair is supposed to be a big event, but most Egyptians visiting our stands say they just happened to be at the fair by chance, having heard or read nothing about it in the media," she told PANA.

29 avril 2002 16:52:00

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