THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has called on the government to remove all export restrictions to increase production and boost earnings for the country.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Addressing a press conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday, CZI president Busisa Moyo said the country had too many export requirements that discouraged companies from exporting.
“We are a country that is currently on a programme of import substitution. We need an import substitution mechanism. If something can be produced locally as a country, we should be united to allow it to be produced locally,” Moyo said.
He said the country needed to export.
“But in order to get to export we must first rein in our import deficit, then we can deal with the cost of production. We are a net importer and last year we had trade deficit of $3,3 billion. Every month we are importing, in net terms, $300 million worth of commodities and products. Exports are not happening because we are not cost-competitive as a country and this is a big issue,” the CZI boss.
Moyo said there were big impediments to exporting items such as bananas and coffee in Zimbabwe.
“We need to look and remove some of these export permit requirements. This is our recommendation as CZI and I believe we have support from ZimTrade on this. Let’s remove export restrictions and allow companies to export. That’s an easy way without any extra funding,” he said.
Moyo said since the government had introduced export incentives, more companies would want to export but the major impediment was export restrictions.
He welcomed the move by the government to restrict importation of products that are available locally, saying that would assist in reducing the import bill, which is currently sitting at around $3 billion per year against imports of up to $6 billion.
Moyo said local industry needed support because the economy was not yet in equilibrium due to a high-cost environment. He said the environment was saddled with high costs that businesses incur.
Moyo said the research done by the Zimbabwe Economic Policy Research Unit (Zeparu) proved that the country’s internal costs and cost of living was higher compared to other countries in the region.
He said the country was also faced with the problem of high cost of living.
“So, one must understand that we have a challenge. The challenge is not just to do with the cost for business, but it also has to do with the cost of living. The cost of living in Zimbabwe is very high. These costs include things like fuel charges,” Moyo said.
‘‘These are some of the inefficiencies that we have and the manufacturing sector is incurring that high cost up front,” he said.
Moyo also said the country was being affected by sanctions, lack of policy consensus around reforms, lack of balance of payments support, weakening of regional currencies and falling commodity prices.