Imports ban forces foreign firms to invest locally – Minister

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MUTARE: Industry minister Mike Bimha says statutory instrument (SI) 16 of 2016 which curbs imports is forcing foreign manufactures to establish factories locally.
The minister made these remarks recently when he toured the premises of South African company Willowton Group in the Nyakamete industrial site of this eastern border city.
Willowton manufactures Delite cooking oil and detergents.
“I think one of the beneficiaries of the SI 16 is the oil expressing sector,” said Bimha.
“They were officially operating below 20 percent capacity utilisation previously but now, as a result of those measures, (the company is) operating at full capacity.”
He added: “Our local manufacturers are making inroads into the export market.
“But one of the benefits arising from SI 16 of 2016 is that those companies that were exporting to Zimbabwe from their countries realize that the measure deprives them of business and strategically came to open shop locally.”
Bimha said although people still have the mindset that everything that is manufactured outside Zimbabwe is superior but was happy that Willowton has opened in Mutare.
“Now that Delite is now manufactured locally, I think the measures have encouraged them and it creates employment; encourages local competition.
“If we have local competition it has effect on price, quality, efficiency and continuous improvement,” said Bimha.
He said local companies should now look move into export markets such as COMESA and the entire African continent.
The minister also revealed that the government would extend its command agriculture programme to include soya beans so that the country stops importing crude oil.
“Instead of importing crude oil like we are doing due to shortages of raw materials, we want to pursue command agriculture but targeting soya beans.
“Once our systems are in place, we want oil expressers to support agriculture, support farmers to produce soya beans locally so that the whole value chain is produced locally,” said Bimha.
“We (also) want our producers to focus on exports which will increase much needed foreign currency.”
Meanwhile, Willlowton managing director, Bruce Henderson, said, so far, they have channelled $40 million towards the project which currently employs 130 locals.Advertisement

He, however, said influx of cheap imports into the country through porous borders continues to adversely impact their operations.