Pre-shipment inspection increases costs for Zimbabwean importers

From March 1, a Statutory Instrument (SI) compelling Zimbabwean importers to present their goods for a pre-shipment inspection, at a cost of between US$250 and US$7,500, will add to import duties already rated among the world's highest. The costs will be passed on to consumers who are already struggling to afford the most basic commodities.

The inspection has been introduced to prevent the importation of substandard goods into Zimbabwe. Fruit and vegetables are included on the list of goods for inspection.

The SI has caused anxiety in industry, which feels that there have not been enough consultations on the policy.

Meetings were held with several lobby groups to discuss the effects of the SI, with some saying they feared that goods in transit could be subjected to the new fees, in violation of existing trade protocols.

Analysts said additional fees on imports could also trigger high levels of smuggling as thousands of people who have lost their jobs in the past 16 years have turned to cross border trading, where they import anything, including substandard goods to make ends meet.


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