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Zimbabwe govt cancels exemption facility for importers

by Staff reporter
03 Oct 2022 at 06:03hrs | Views
THE Government says the exemptions letters issued to importers, but without expiry dates, under the Consignment Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) programme 2022 have expired.

The CBCA programme is an initiative the Government introduced to avert the dumping of sub-optimal imported products into Zimbabwe by ensuring pre-shipment inspections are conducted before the imported goods enter the country. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued exemption letters for goods entering the county under the CBCA programme with the intention to facilitate imports at the height of the pandemic.

As part of efforts to contain the viral infection, countries around the world in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines embarked on travel restrictions and national lockdowns, a development that impacted on trade and investment globally.

In 2016, the Government signed a four-year CBCA contract with a French-based company, Bureau Veritas, that has since been renewed to offer free-shipment inspection services on imported products.

The Government has sought to enhance the CBCA programme by engaging three more service providers including the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), Cotecna Inspection Societe Anonyme (SA) of Switzerland and the EAA Company Limited of Japan.

Last week, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued a public notice stating that the exemption letters that were issued to importers under the CBCA programme before June this year with no expiry dates have been withdrawn.

"In order to avoid misuse of such letters, please be advised that all exemption letters that were issued by the Ministry before 1st of June 2022 will expire on September 30, 2022," reads part of the notice.

Upon satisfactory verification, a CBCA certificate will be issued for the consignment and the certificate would be presented for customs clearance on arrival in Zimbabwe.

Goods that will arrive in the country without a CBCA certificate would be subject to inspection by authorities at Zimbabwe's ports of entry.

In an interview, economist Ms Wendy Mpofu said the appointment of SAZ to conduct destination inspection services on imported goods once they arrive in the country was a step in the right direction as far as curbing dumping of sub-standards products.

"The CBCA programme protects the country from being on the receiving end in as far as receiving sub-standard goods, especially when we look at the competition being created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which promotes intra-trade across Africa," she said.

The AfCFTA to which Zimbabwe is signatory was operationalised in January last year, making historic strides towards continental economic integration. Zimbabwe has deposited its instrument of ratification expected to pave the way for the country's full participation in the estimated US$3,4 trillion trading bloc and continent wide market of about 1,3 billion people.

Ms Mpofu said: "Zimbabwe like any other country is exposed to substandard imports should we not have initiatives such as the CBCA, so having such a programme is a step in the right direction in fighting the influx of sub-standard products into the country." Since its inception, the CBCA has achieved a lot of objectives in terms of curbing the influx of substandard imported products.

Official figures from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce indicate that more than five million inferior products have been refused entry in Zimbabwe through the pre-export verification programme.

Source - The Herald