THE Ministry of Industry and Commerce, together with the Ministry of Finance, have agreed to reduce or totally remove duty on imported raw materials and equipment for local manufacturers and suppliers, a government official said.
At the launch of the first Buy Zimbabwe Retail Chain Suppliers conference in the capital on Wednesday, Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha, who officially opened the conference, said the initiative of reducing or removing duty for local manufactures who import raw materials and equipment would boost industry and production in the country.
“We are looking at the issue of duties, one of the areas that we have already agreed on with the Minister of Finance is that we want to reduce, if not totally remove, duty on raw materials and on equipment that local manufacturers want to use for production,” he said.
Bimha, who did not give a timeframe of when the reduction or removal of duty was to be effected, said government was looking into how best it could support the Buy Zimbabwe campaign, which is lobbying for consumption of locally produced products over imports.
The policies are premised on the addition of value of locally-available resources, the beneficiation of the country’s raw materials and the increase in the nation’s exports in regional and global markets.
“Since 2012 the trade deficit in the country has increased by 26%. Such negatively skewed trends in trade are detrimental to our efforts to rejuvenate the local industry, create employment and stem the liquidity crunch that we are currently experiencing,” Bimha said.
Zimbabwe’s imports as at August 2013 had ballooned to US$3,9 billion, largely driven by foodstuffs. The country not only produces foodstuffs, albeit in inadequate quantities but also has potential and capacity to increase supply. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Zimbabwe currently spends on imports US$35 million a year on milk and more than US$600 million on fertiliser.
Buy Zimbabwe general manager Munyaradzi Hwengwere said the demand for local products had decreased mainly because of the liquidity crunch. He, however, said he was positive Zimbabwe had capacity to produce and supply local products as before.
On the sidelines of the conference, Anchor Yeast chief operations officer of Muvirimi Kupara said Zimbabwe’s import dependence was going overboard.