Zim faces Sadc grilling over SI64

INDUSTRY and Commerce minister Mike Bimha says he will justify the imposition of import restrictions when he meets his Sadc counterparts next week, adding that the affected countries should not cry foul.

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha

Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha

Last year, the government promulgated Statutory Instrument (SI) 64, which restricts the importation of 43 products.

Speaking at the launch of National Bakeries Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) Market Assessment Survey yesterday in Harare, Bimha said at the upcoming committee meetings with his Sadc counterparts SI 64 of 2016 was set to feature prominently.

“While it is good for us, it is not good for others and obviously this issue comes again and again on the agenda, but we are confident that we do have the ammunition to fight our case and that it is in the interest of Zimbabwe. In any case, when we talk about SI64 we are only talking about 40 products and that there is still a lot of products and raw materials that we still import from one particular country,” he said.

“Now, surely, they cannot cry foul with only 40 out of the many products that we continue to import from them, but I believe we will stand our ground. As I said, we believe that SI64 was just the beginning of a strategy to support local production, we must continue to buttress this policy by other policy interventions.”

Bimha said some of these policy issues centred on local content regulation, producing, and coming up with standards to ensure our products are internationally competitive.

Bimha will be part of meetings that precede the Sadc summit of Heads of State and government involving the committee of ministers of trade.

South Africa openly expressed its annoyance with SI64, as it is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner.

Bimha said revelations show that there was still some bitter feelings against SI64 of 2016 from South Africa.

At the start of August 2016, South Africa gave Zimbabwe two weeks to remove duty and surtax on 112 products after Harare had implemented the legislation.

Bimha will travel to Pretoria, South Africa, this weekend to hold the preparatory meetings for the upcoming Sadc Heads of State and government summit, on August 19 to 20.

Industry says SI64 has given them a lift, with some companies recording an increase in capacity utilisation.

Meanwhile, the NBAZ Market Assessment Survey found that 100 bakeries closed in the past few years from a high of 250. Currently, bakeries are operating at 55% capacity from an installed capacity to produce 1,8 million loaves of bread.