THE government has gazetted a new tariff regime for chicken imports as it moves to protect and boost local poultry production, it has emerged.
By Our Business Reporter
The new measures come a fortnight after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono revealed that the country was spending in excess of $65 million a month in the importation of “chicken gizzards, liver, feet and heads”.
“Would you believe it that as a country we are spending on average no less than $65 million a month to import chicken gizzards, livers, feet, heads intestines and that kind of thing,” Gono said.
Under the tariff regime gazetted last Friday under Customs and Excise amendment Notice 2012 (No 3), “meat and edible offal of poultry fresh, chilled or frozen now attracts a customs duty of $1,50 per kg or 40% whichever is greater.”
In his 2013 Budget, Finance minister Tendai Biti said stiff competition from cheap imports for both table eggs and meat was threatening the viability of local poultry businesses.
In addition, local producers have had to contend with rising input costs, particularly maize and soya meal, due to poor harvests and high volumes of illegal imports being sold in the domestic market at sub-economic prices.
According to Biti, the local industry has heavily invested in production of poultry and day-old chicks since 2009, a development that has resulted in a significant increase in the production of day-old chicks, chicken and table eggs.
“Due to unfair competition from imports of chicken, local breeders are increasingly cancelling orders for day-old chicks as they fail to secure customers for their chicken as imports from outside the Sadc/Comesa region retail at prices significantly lower than locally produced chicken, notwithstanding the 40% duty levied on imported chicken,” Biti said.
He said investigations indicated that chicken imports were either smuggled or grossly undervalued for duty purposes, adding that the necessary veterinary and health hazard permit controls were being undermined.
“In order to level the playing field between imported and locally-produced chicken, I propose to review customs duty from 40% to $1,50 per kg or 40%, whichever is higher, with effect from November 16 2012,” Biti said in his Budget presentation.
He said the government would continue to monitor domestic prices of chicken to ensure sustenance of competitive pricing.
The poultry industry has become a source of livelihood for many households.