Industries say imports ban instrument weak, plead for local content law

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LOCAL business representatives have called for a local content legislation that will drive industrialisation across all the value chain.
Delegates attending the 7th Annual Buy Local Summit and Investment Forum in Victoria Falls said while the Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 introduced by government last year managed to transform the economy by reviving some industries, there was need to come up with a local content policy to address SI 64/ 2016 shortfalls.
The SI64/16 was promulgated in June last year to remove several goods from the Open General Import Licence to regulate imports entering into the country.
Economist, Dr Gift Mugano, said the instrument had failed to address some issues in the value chain.
“While the SI has managed to protect certain industries whose goods are listed, the Statutory Instrument is not addressing the whole value chain. I can pick issues of quality and certification of standards where some local companies still haven’t been certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mugano said the SI 64 was just a short term measure, hence the need for localising production to set standards in every sector to foster industrialisation.
“With SI 64/2016 we have managed to protect about 43 of those products listed under the SI yet our economy is supported by over 10 000 products. We are protecting cooking oil but not the contents such as raw materials, which means that we need to look at local content across the whole value chain,” he said.
Dr Mugano said there was a need for a local content policy framework but warned against expending efforts and resources in sectors over which it does not have competitive advantage.
“Local content works in areas where you have competitive advantage and thus there is need to create policies that support local content. You will find that the SI 64/2016 has some issues with Sadc protocols on trade.”
Speaking at the same platform, Buy Zimbabwe general manager, Munyaradzi Hwengwere, said while some positives had been noted, more still needs to be done.
“We are all happy with the results of SI 64/2016 as there has been some reduction in import growth but Nostro accounts have remained as pressurised as they are because of a number of supply constraints,” he said.
Hwengwere called for competitive advantage strategies on economic activity.Advertisement

The summit is being held under the theme: “Driving industrialisation through local content.” It seeks to intensify the buy local message rhetoric to revive the economy.
The Zimbabwean economy has, over the years, relied on imports which experts say disadvantage local producers.
However, consumers prefer foreign products because they are cheaper than locally produced goods.