Prosper Ndlovu, business writer
The National Development Strategy (NDS1), the country’s new five-year development roadmap, will play a key role in positioning Zimbabwe for increased gains within the framework of regional economic integration, said the Minister of Finance and Government. Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube.
This comes as the government is seriously focusing its policy on regional, continental and international integration initiatives, as these are essential for promoting economic development.
Zimbabwe is among the main regional integration initiatives under SADC, Comesa and, more recently, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
These are considered essential to ensure that all production inputs from the aforementioned trading blocks are imported duty free, while ensuring that exports to the same destinations are competitive due to low tariffs and streamlined customs procedures. , among other preferential exchanges. provisions.
The country has already signed and ratified the AfCFTA and preparations for trade under the same agreement are at an advanced stage.
NDS1 (2021-2025), which builds on the steps taken under the Transitional Stabilization Program (PST: 2018-2020), thus places economic growth and national stability among the main pillars of economic development, l regional integration being at the center of concerns. , said the minister.
“Companies should therefore take advantage of the expanded commodity and export market, with a view to improving the competitiveness of locally produced goods, thereby contributing to the country’s development agenda,” said Professor Ncube.
“Empirical studies already confirm the positive relationship between free trade agreements and economic growth and development. “
The minister said this last Thursday on the occasion of the late commemorations of International Customs Day, set aside to recognize and celebrate the role of customs officials and border agencies in facilitating international trade, as well as collecting customs revenue.
Zimra hosted the event virtually under the theme: “Customs enhances recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.
“Customs should therefore play a central role in realizing the aspirations of the AfCFTA, which aims, among other things, to stimulate intra-African trade in goods through the adoption of efficient customs clearance procedures and processes, as well as to facilitate transit. of commercial freight, ”said Professor Ncube.
He called on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to further contribute to the achievement of the regional integration agenda through initiatives such as streamlining and simplifying customs procedures and processes, modernization and harmonization. export and import processes to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the movement. of goods at ports of entry.
This includes the continuous upgrade of customs clearance systems by devoting adequate resources to the upgrade of the existing ICT infrastructure and the strict application of the electronic cargo tracking system, which is essential to detect and reduce cases. transit fraud; among other initiatives, said Professor Ncube.
“Achieving the development agenda set out in NDS1 requires transformation in the public and private sectors to comprehensively address aspects of the silo mentality, thereby strengthening collective accountability,” he said.
“There is therefore a need for Zimra to forge stronger partnerships with other border agencies and associated partners and to work towards improving the trade facilitation mandate. Since the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, tax authorities have been forced to move their operations to digital platforms and introduce strict mitigation measures, in a bid to protect the lives of customs officials.
Zimbabwe recently used the ASYCUDA system, which is the backbone of the online customs clearance system, but is subject to minimal disruption.
Despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns, the government has ensured that cross-border trade in goods continues to ensure that local industry obtains key imported inputs for production, as well as export revenues.