Government repeals imports restriction law

 Minister Mike Bimha

Minister Mike Bimha

Prosper Ndlovu in Harare
THE Govermment has repealed Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 and consolidated various import licensing regulations under the newly gazetted Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Mike Bimha, said yesterday.

The move is part of broader Government efforts to enhancing ease of doing business and address regulatory bottlenecks that are blamed for inhibiting exports.

“Government has removed all, except four strategic products — fertilizers, second hand equipment, sugar, gypsum — from export licensing requirements as gazetted through Statutory Instrument (S.I) 122 of 2017.

“S.I.122 of 2017 repealed S.I.64 of 2016 with all various import licensing S.Is now consolidated under the new S.I. for ease of reference in doing business,” said Dr Bimha while addressing delegates attending the 2017 ZimTrade Exporters’ Conference here.

Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which removed a range of products from the Open General Import Licence, had generated a lot of anxiety in business circles at home and in the region.

The policy has, however, been credited for assisting increased domestic production and capacity utilisation, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).

Since its inception, S.I.64/2016 has helped the country to save about $2 billion, latest reports indicate.

However, there have been reservations on the sustainability of the regulation in view of the long- term regional and multi-lateral trade relations, whose provisions are not in favour of the protectionist nature of the S.I.

Dr Bimha said sustainable economic growth must be driven by exports and investment as he stressed the need for collective efforts in playing ball towards improving product quality and export competitiveness.

“Indeed, there is a need to build synergised pillars for export competitiveness. Government’s thrust is to improve the ease of doing export business by addressing regulatory and procedural bottlenecks that have been identified as inhibiting exports,” he said.

“It is my expectation that Government departments that have not implemented recommendations of the 200-day Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) to accelerate synchronisation and amendment of export regulations and procedures that fall under their purview will do so without further delay for the good of our country.”

The 200-day RRI on the ease of doing export business was undertaken between December 2016 and July 2017 under collaboration between Government and the private sector. The exercise established that the international competitiveness gaps of Zimbabwe’s export products ranged from 12 to 50 percent.

Exports have continued to sustain Zimbabwe’s economy over the years, contributing more than 60 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings.

According to Dr Bimha, minerals and tobacco presently contribute 80 percent of the country’s total export earnings with the manufacturing and services sectors contributing less than 10 percent each to exports.

While Zimbabwe has come up with a raft of monetary and fiscal incentives to support the growth of exports, the issue of competitiveness is weighing down export performance.

Major factors that affect competitiveness and growth of exports include high production costs and multiplicity of export regulations and procedures.

About 200 delegates attended the conference, which ran under the theme, “Building Synergised Pillars for Export Competitiveness”.

Article Source: The Chronicle