THE Competition and Tariff Commission will submit a report to government by the end of the month detailing stakeholders’ input regarding the adoption of a common external tariff (CET), businessdi
gest heard this week.
A CET is a rate applied by a regional grouping of countries as a unit.
The CET is seen as a prerequisite for the smooth functioning of a customs union within a regional free trade area.
Government is expected to take the final report to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) meeting in Lusaka in October.
Tariffs division assistant director, Anselmo Nhara, said local industries had forwarded their inputs to the Competition and Tariff Commission, while other sectors were yet to do so.
“Inputs are still coming regarding what industrial sectors want and some sectors said they needed time to consult with their counterparts, for instance the clothing sector and we will be taking their submissions on board when they come,” he said.
“Other sectors that have raised concern include Zisco, Steelmakers and battery manufacturing company, Powercell, among others.”
Nhara said specific concerns raised would be discussed with the companies in question as well as other interested parties to come up with an acceptable duty structure.
At the last Comesa Policy Organ meeting in Kampala in June, it was agreed that as a way forward member states should carry out national stakeholders consultations on the most appropriate tariff structure.
This would form the basis for further negotiations at regional level.
It is against this background that the Comesa secretariat carried out extensive national consultations in adopting a common tariff nomenclature, which ensures uniformity in the description of traded goods.
Comesa members are already implementing a Common Tariff Nomenclature (CTN).
Nhara said government had proposed a framework for levying duty rates as a way of facilitating the consultation process.
“This rates are as follows: raw materials 5%, intermediate goods 15%, finished goods 40% and capital goods 0%,” he said.
The adoption of a CET was necessitated by problems encountered during various Comesa trade and ministerial council meetings pertaining to the precise rates applicable to various product categories which have been identified as raw materials, intermediate goods, finished goods and goods of regional economic importance.
The contentious issue revolves around the disparity in the level of duties which individual Comesa member countries charge.
“For instance, countries like Egypt, Mauritius and Zimbabwe have very high tariffs of up to 100% compared to Uganda and Kenya where a maximum of 25% duty level is levied,” Nhara said.