Bureau Veritas vice-president Arnaud de Lamotte says Zimbabwe could lower its trade deficit as the move to import standard goods may open floodgates for exporting opportunities.
By Fidelity Mhlanga
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. According to Lamotte, in order for Zimbabwe to export more, it should first import standard products.
“In order for Zimbabwe to open more business opportunities of exporting, it should import international standard goods.
“If you import standard raw materials to produce goods for export, it will be easy when exporting these goods to countries where Consignment-Based Conformity Assessment Certificate programme (CBCA) exists. They will look as to whether the raw materials used to produce the products adhere to international standards,” he said in an interview last week.
Founded in 1828, the company has a presence in 140 countries, which could present good export markets for Zimbabwe. In 2016, the country’s trade deficit stood at US$2,4 billion.
This comes after BV has intensified its endeavour to engage various stakeholders involved in the importation value chain to improve safety and quality of products.
The move, according to the company’s Lamotte, is also geared towards easing clearance procedures, promote fair competition, fight counterfeiting and protect consumers and the environment.
“To confirm that products conform to the relevant international standards, exporters should provide copies of certificates or test reports that show that the specific products comply with the safety standards,” Lamotte said.
Shipments are supposed to present a valid, authentic CBCA Certificate issued for the same consignment.
Since commencing work in the country in July 2015, it has issued 22 000 certificates by end of last year.
“All reputable manufacturers usually manufacture their products according to acceptable and known international criteria. They usually have their products tested and certified by recognised international organisations who make sure the products meet the required performance and safety criteria,” Lamotte said.
Products covered under the CBCA Programme are food and agriculture, building products, petroleum and fuel, packaging material, electrical/electronic products, body care and health products, automotive and transportation, clothing and textile.
However, goods with a threshold of US$1 000 are exempted from the programme. CBCA Programme requires that products have evidence of conformity to safety standards.
Exempted also are charitable shipments, donations offered by foreign governments or international organisations to the government, to charities, to foundations and to philanthropic organisations recognised as being helpful towards the public and humanitarian goods imported by agencies.
Imports for diplomatic entities and for United Nations agencies for their own use, personal belongings and goods destined for duty-free shop are also spared from the programme.
BV will this year be conducting periodic awarenesses with companies in telecoms, audio visual, electrical, automotive, fast-moving consumer goods, retail, wholesale, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, construction, foreign embassies and hospitality industry.
Economist John Robertson said local manufacturers should properly understand their export market in order to have a competitive advantage.
“What is needed is for local producers to know what’s needed in foreign markets. If they know what the foreign market needs, it will be good for their business,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Busisa Moyo said BV was critical in curbing sub-standard goods into the country, as they were competing with locally-produced goods.
“We have a challenge of dumping of fake and undesirable products in the country. We had sub-standard goods coming into the country. We then requested the Industry and Commerce ministry to ensure that we have good quality products.
We have seen this, especially on electrical products and this is when BV comes into effect,” he said.