Source: ‘Zim to act on SA tariff lift request’ | The Herald January 6, 2017
Business Reporter —
ZIMBABWE says it will submit a response to South Africa soon explaining its position on the southern trade partner’s request for a phase down of taxes on certain imports in terms of the Sadc trade protocol.
South Africa requested Harare to reduce charges covered under 112 tariff lines, which it believed Zimbabwe did not have production capacity for, out of as many as 1 000 products.
The longstanding enquiry follows the Sadc trade protocol, which came into force in 2008. Calls by Pretoria for the tariff phase down became even louder following controls Harare introduced in July last year, which restrict importation of products that can be manufactured locally.
But in terms of measures taken by Zimbabwe under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, Government says Pretoria now fully understands the rationale behind the measures to restrict certain imports, but would respond to other tariff issues under the Sadc trade protocol.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said Zimbabwe expects to provide an explanation to its biggest trading partner by end of this month, having enlisted Sadc for technical assistance on the issue.
The trade minister said the work that needs to be done entails more than just a phase down of tariffs on listed products with a lot of technical work to be done, which his ministry is already working on.
Minister Bimha said Zimbabwe needed to clinically look at each product, before exempting it from prescribed charges on being imported, in line with the requirements under the Sadc trade protocol, which South Africa has long demanded the country to observe. Zimbabwe will apply for derogation from Sadc on the 112 tariff lines.
“In terms of the Sadc trade protocol, we have explained the situation to the South African Government. There is a provision (for doing it), but it might take six months to complete paper work if we do it on our own,” he said.
As such, Minister Bimha he has asked Sadc to provide a trade expert whom he said would help Government to prepare the paper work, which he hoped should be completed by the end of this month.
Pretoria also wants outright removal of the charges if possible.
Zimbabwe also has trade issues it wants South Africa to address; the requirement for Zimbabwe’s pharmaceutical exports to be airlifted and enter through OR Tambo International Airport.