Millions of substandard products  blocked from entering Zimbabwe Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary, Dr Thomas Utete Wushe, addressing delegates during a consignment-based conformity assessment programme awareness workshop in Harare on Tuesday.

Oliver Kazunga

Senior Business Reporter

Nearly 155 million units of substandard products have been rejected by Zimbabwe since the implementation of the Consignment Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) programme in 2015 enabling the country to reduce the influx of hazardous and suboptimal products locally.

The Government, in 2015 engaged the services of a French-based and global standards firm, Bureau Veritas, to carry out consignment-based assessments of imported products before shipment or upon arrival in the country.

While the conformity of imported products that entered into Zimbabwe before the implementation of the CBCA programme is not known, the initiative is seen as a giant step towards substantially reducing hazardous and substandard imported goods as well as improving customs duty collection.

The initiative is vitally important as it seeks to protect Zimbabwean consumers against dangerous or suboptimal products as well as improving the quality of products through applicable standards and regulations.

This is particularly significant at a time when the continent has embraced the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The AfCFTA to which Zimbabwe is signatory, aims to eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of goods traded between member States over a 10-year period.

This means that industries across Africa need to brace for stiff competition and the strengthening of value chains is essential to ensure Zimbabwean businesses are able to compete.

The AfCFTA is also expected to boost intra-African trade by 53 percent by 2025 with the potential to create up to 30 million jobs and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty.

Speaking during a CBCA awareness workshop organised by Bureau Veritas in Harare on Tuesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Dr Thomas Utete Wushe, said the CBCA programme has since become a major aspect of the country in enhancing consumer welfare as well as promoting fair business practices.

“Following the inception of the CBCA programme in May 2015, more than 154 207 545 units of products have been rejected.

“Before the implementation of the programme, the conformity of the products being imported into the country was not known or appreciated.

“The CBCA programme thus continues to play a pivotal role in safeguarding our local industry from unfair competition presented by non-compliant imported products by ensuring that they meet prescribed standards,” he said.

He said as Zimbabwe embarks on its key export focus growth at a time when the AfCFTA programme unfolds as well as industry capacity utilisation, it remains imperative that economic players import quality high-standard inputs before adding value.

This, Dr Wushe said, would ensure Zimbabwe produces high-quality reputable products capable of accessing international markets.

“The CBCA programme remains a key trade facilitation tool within the context of the AfCFA. Zimbabwe can thus only harness tangible benefits from this multilateral trade agreement if we are producing competitive quality products and exporting into the region,” said Dr Wushe.

Bureau Veritas was assigned by the Government, through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, to ensure that the quality of products imported into Zimbabwe were regulated or met minimum safety, health and quality standards.

Of late, the Government has also contracted other companies including the Standards Association of Zimbabwe to complement the efforts by Bureau Veritas in inspecting the quality of imported products into the country.

Recently, there has been strong evidence that consumers and local industry were benefiting from the CBCA initiative as lowly priced inferior and unsafe imports threatened the safety of consumers and pushed local products to the brink.

Bureau Veritas Zimbabwe contracts manager said his organisation, under the CBCA programme specialises in three contract categories- the general goods contract, used vehicles and spare parts, and consolidated goods contract which was introduced by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to try and promote compliance with players in the informal sector.

“We have a wide range of products covered by the CBCA. We started with an initial limited product list in 2015 which has seen a significant increase in the product scope . . . some of the products that are regulated under the scheme include a wide range of electrical and electronic products (among them solar products, lighting appliances), construction materials and appliances, footwear, clothing accessories, automotive products and spare parts.

“In the energy space, we also have other products such as petrol, diesel and other related products like gas containers, as well as food products,” he said.

“The interest is to safeguard the consumer from the adverse impact of substandard or dangerous products. As a trusted partner, we really do our best in exercising due diligence to ensure that we only issue a certificate of conformity for products that have met the requisite prescribed standards.”

The CBCA said there was a need to facilitate trade across the country’s borders while reducing or minimising the volume of non-compliant goods within the interest of consumer safety, protection of local industry as well as fostering fair competition.

In recent years, the domestic market was subjected to the influx of cheap imported products rendering the local players uncompetitive while also capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector declining to an average of 10 percent in 2008.

So far, due to a number of policies the Government and the private sector have collaborated on, capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector is expected to improve this year to over 60 percent.

The projection is also on the back of massive retooling and fresh investments in machinery by the private sector.

The manufacturing sector has in the past four years been registering steady gains in volumes and production capacity.

The trend has also resulted in an increase in the availability of locally produced goods in the supermarket shelves.

In 2022, Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector capacity utilisation stood at 56,1 percent and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), which is the country’s industry representative body, is yet to release results of last year’s manufacturing sector survey report.


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