The country’s relaxed policies that permit the importation of used cars is hindering possible prospects by automobile companies to establish manufacturing plants, Nissan sales and operation general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, Liz Segal has said.
BY TINOTENDA MUNYUKWI/ FIDELITY MHLANGA
Drawing parallels in policy with South Africa, Segal told NewsDay on the side-lines of the third generation Nissan Navara launch last week that having an automobile manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe remained a pipe dream, until the government reviews its policy on “grey imports”.
“If the government puts a policy to ban grey imports, it would go a long way in making manufacturing viable in Zimbabwe. South Africa has benchmarks, they do not have grey imports, our automotive policy does not allow for grey imports, so establishing manufacturing goes hand-in-hand with the development of government auto policy,” Segal said.
“With grey imports, there will continue to be a challenge for all brands in sub-Saharan Africa, but what is great is being able to engage the government in auto policy or their plans around auto motor policy.”
She revealed that prior engagements had been made with the government, through the dealer’s counsel, to deliberate on the creation of an enabling environment for the establishment of car manufacturing plants that would help create many jobs for Zimbabweans.
Her sentiments deepen the debate around second-hand car imports with the central bank having come up with a recent import priority list to contain the foreign currency being siphoned out of the country through the importation of used cars.
The list places used car imports under the non-priority category and this has seen the number of used cars imported, reducing significantly since May.
A Fitch Group research company, BMI recently revealed that vehicle sales in the country will this year decline by 13,9% on the back of the ongoing liquidity crisis and weak economic growth.
Nissan has, however, managed to preserve a high market share with a decent 33,5% from 31% last year, which currently is the highest across all the automobile brands available in Zimbabwe.