via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Zimbabwe toughens import measures 04 September 2014
Zimbabwe has widened the number of goods that require import licences for import into the country as government moves to protect local industry following an insurmountable proliferation of imports from other countries.
There, however, are fears that other countries within the Southern African Community region might hit back.
With provisions of the Control of Goods (import and export) Regulation of 1974, Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha increased the products that require import licences from nine to 16 with effect frm 15 August.
Products that were added include milk (liquid and powder packed for retail), potatoes (tomatoes and onions), Biscuits & yeast, Portland cement, soap & soap preparations, plastic bags of polymets, Tubes (pipes, conveyor belts and rubber hoses).
Excise and customs duty expert Elisha Tshuma hailed government for introducing the statutory instrument, but said that the move needs to be complemented by real actions that strengthen industries to compete in the region.
“Checking from the type of the goods that have been added to the list, there is a justification because they all can be sourced locally.
“However, protectionist measures are always short term solutions to the problem. The question will be what is government doing to promote capacity utilisation of our industries,” Tshuma said.
“Protection without enhancing our industry will not get us anyway,” he added.
Bimha appointed Advisory Committees on ‘Imports’ and ‘Ease and cost of doing business in Zimbabwe’ in May to help strategise ways to curb imports.
Confederations of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI) latest statistics show that industries are working at a third of capacity, down from 39% a few months ago.
The import bill is projected to nudge up to $8,3 billion this year, from an estimated $7,7 billion last year.