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Local firms decry delay in imports certification

Bureau Veritas (BV), a company contracted by government to inspect imports, says it is not creating bottlenecks but abiding by international standards to block counterfeit goods into the country.

By Fidelity Mhlanga

Trucks wait to cross the Beitbridge Border Post.
Trucks wait to cross the Beitbridge Border Post.

BV vice-president Arnaud de Lamotte on Wednesday said due to a meticulous verification process conduted on imported goods, it takes an average of five days from the day an exporter contacts BV to the inspection date and the issuance of a certificate of conformity.

“If the exporter is not compliant, BV cannot issue a certificate. Some guys are blaming BV for delays. This is not a delay, but a process. We don’t do what we want .We are accredited by International Organisation Federation of Inspection Agency. So we have to abide by those rules,” Lamotte said.

This comes after Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa in December said the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should re-examine BV’s operations, amid concerns it was becoming a burden on local industries.

Lamotte said Consignment-Based Conformity Assessment was a trade facilitation programme hinged on the premise that the more compliant the exporter is, the quicker the process .

He added his firm was in constant contact with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), ZimTrade and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to resolve any problem that may arise.

BV, a global company specialising in testing, inspection and certification services, was awarded a four-year contract by government to carry out inspection of imported goods.

Since commencing work in the country in July 2015 it has issued 22 000 certificates by end of last year.

It seeks to ensure that clients’ assets, products, infrastructure and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection and social responsibility.

The company has 70 000 employers and 1 000 laboratories around the world.

Founded in 1828, it has a presence in 140 countries.
Lamotte said the inspection of goods is done in the country of origin and the importer only pays for them once the certificate of compliance is issued.

“I think we are doing our job properly, we can’t issue a certificate of conformity that is not compliant or with sub-standard goods. We are given a consignment and we have to ensure that goods are compliant. It’s a programme for importers to better select their exporters. When you have an exporter who is not willing to comply it raises suspicion.”

Products under the programme are fertilisers, biscuits, confectionary, beverages, snacks, cement, sanitary ware, ceramic tiles, doorframes, lubricants, electrical appliances, solar panels, detergents, tyres, new motor vehicles, blankets, shoes among others.
Consignments of goods below US$1 000 are not subject to inspection.

BV is remitting 5% of its revenue to government and an additional 2% towards local empowerment and capacity building.
Lamotte, who jetted into the country on Tuesday, will meet officials from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and SAZ, among other stakeholders, to get an update on the programme.

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