Source: Zim, SA in key trade talks | The Sunday Mail July 17, 2016
GOVERNMENT will this week engage South Africa to discuss issues of mutual economic concern, joint ventures, credit lines, markets and Harare’s policy to restrict certain imports as part of efforts to boost local industry.South African businesses are ratcheting up pressure on Tshwane to push for an end to the import controls. South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner.
Since the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, the Musina business community on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border has lost more than US$10 million in potential business.
This has seen South Africa’s trade and industry ministry ask for a five-day meeting from July 18 to July 22.
Zimbabwe’s Secretary for Industry and Commerce, Mrs Abigail Shonhiwa, told The Sunday Mail Business that the meeting between Deputy Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa and her South African counterpart Mr Mzwandile Masina was meant to find a market for local products and also scout for lines of credit.
“The main purpose of the meeting is to find an everlasting solution of trade between South African goods and our goods. We would want a situation whereby Zimbabwean goods uptake tally with the South African uptake. Though we are not going back with the SI 64, we seek to iron out all sticking points for the trade of the two countries to flourish.
“South Africa remains committed to the Zimbabwean cause, hence, she (the need) to promote foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe by South African companies . . . The mission will give local companies the opportunity to look for joint venture partnerships with South African investors as well as look for markets of their products in South Africa,” she said.
In June, Zimbabwe restricted the import of goods on products such as cosmetics, cereals, cheese,
canned goods and furniture for commercial purposes.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries vice-president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said the SI boded well for the future of local industry.
“As CZI, we would like to go there and share our own experiences with those of our South African counterparts and find way forward for our goods as well as finding partnerships. Finally, our policymakers are giving us a big platform like this to participate and make contributions for the good of our industry,” he said.
Besides the bilateral engagements, it is understood that Tshwane has approached Sadc structures claiming that SI 64 is against regional trade protocols.
Though South Africa is fretting about the new policy, Zimbabwe similarly has concerns on some non-tariffs barriers imposed by its neighbour on exports to that country.
During President Mugabe’s State visit to South Africa in April 2015, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa complained about that country’s insistence that pharmaceutical goods from Zimbabwe be transported by air.
This ultimately makes local drugs more expensive relative to those produced by South African pharmaceutical companies.