Zimbabwe to curb cheap imports

Harare, Sep 30 (IANS) In a bid to curb the influx of cheap imports, Zimbabwe is drafting policies as the country's trade deficit continues to grow, the state media reported Sunday.

Policymakers are looking at ways to regulate imports to both curb the influx of cheap imports and help local industries operate viably, reported Xinhua citing Zimbabwean Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa telling The Sunday Mail.

Though details of the policies are not yet disclosed, observers say a hike of duties might be in the pipeline.

The slash of duties on various products in 2009, directed to solve the shortages caused by hyper-inflation, triggered the influx of imported clothing, textiles, shoes, and electronic gadgets, depressing local industries' productivity, the report said.

Zimbabwe used to take pride in a strong manufacturing sector. But after a decade of economic meltdown capped by the collapse of the local currency in early 2009, the country's industries are struggling to survive.

About 60 percent of the goods in Zimbabwean shops now are imported from South Africa, China and Nigeria. According to the government statistics, trade deficit in the first four months of the year grew to $1.6 billion.

"We have seen a situation whereby we have turned into a warehouse of imports," the minister said. "Next month we will introduce policies meant to address the issue of cheap imports."

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