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3 rd Foreign Office Consultations Held between India and Zambia

On May 25, 2023, India and Zambia had their third Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) in New Delhi. The Indian team was led by Shri Puneet R. Kundal, Joint Secretary (East and Southern Africa), while the Zambian group was led by Amb. Isabelle M.M. Lemba, Permanent Secretary (IRC) in Zambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Both delegations examined the multifaceted bilateral relationship during the FOC, which included political exchanges, consular issues, development partnership projects, trade and economic matters, defence cooperation, and cooperation in areas such as education, agriculture, health, SMEs, mines and minerals, and so on. The importance of high-level visits was stressed, notably the early convening of the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC). While both sides expressed pleasure with the current bilateral relationships, they agreed to broaden collaboration in other sectors in order to improve this relationship.

Both parties also discussed UN Security Council changes, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and South African Development Cooperation (SADC). To keep the cooperation dynamic and mutually beneficial, all sides agreed to continue high-level political interactions and periodic conferences of the joint institutional structures. Both parties decided to hold the next session of consultations in Lusaka in 2024 on mutually suitable dates.

India and Zambia have maintained friendly ties until the twenty-first century. India has become a trusted partner and friend over many decades, and Zambian authorities refer to it as an “all-weather and time-tested friend.” The relationship is still founded on mutual respect and a sense of partnership for mutual gain. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and other leaders of Zambia’s independence movement were inspired by leaders of India’s liberation struggle, particularly Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi continues to inspire and astonish Zambians and leaders, notably Zambia’s youth.

Zambia’s first Republican President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, visited India more than ten times, including as a freedom warrior in 1957 and on a state visit in 1967. President Chiluba paid a state visit to India in October 1993. Ms. W.K. Mutale Nalumango, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, led a Zambian delegation to the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership, held in New Delhi on July 19–20, 2022, which included Elias Mubanga, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development of the Republic of Zambia.

Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the then-President of India, paid a state visit to Zambia from April 10 to 12, 2018, at the request of Zambia’s President. He met with his Zambian counterpart at State House, which was followed by the signing of four Memorandums of Understanding, namely the Avoidance of Double Taxation, Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic Passports, the Establishment of an Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Zambia, and Judicial Sector Cooperation.

Bilateral trade has been gradually increasing. In light of Zambia’s favorable long-term economic indicators and potential, the mission continues to encourage Indian businesses to enter the Zambian market. Some bilateral initiatives include the Pan-African e-network project, the Indo-Zambia bank established in 1984, etc.