Government on Thursday launched a five-year Trade Facilitation Roadmap which seeks to simplify, harmonise and modernise export and import processes, among other things.

The road-map, which will be implemented from 2018 to 2022, was produced in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the UK’s Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service and the European Union.

The roadmap will also help Zimbabwe implement the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which came into force in February 2017 following ratification by two thirds of World Trade Organisation (WTO) members.

Zimbabwe is a member of the WTO and is taking steps to ratify the TFA.

The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

It also sets out measures for effective co-operation between customs and other relevant authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

According to the trade facilitation roadmap, Zimbabwe aims to reduce import documents from 11 to six and export documents from nine to five.

The country is also targeting to reduce the time it takes to comply with border requirements from nine days and 12 hours, to four days and 18 hours for imports and time to export from three days to 36 hours by the year 2022.

“It costs $562 to comply with import requirements but we want to reduce this to $450 and cost to import we want to reduce from $285 to $222 by the year 2022,” read the road-map.

“We also hope to simplify and harmonise practices and procedures, for example in terms of simplification, for our SMEs (small and medium enterprises)it is difficult for them to comply with some of the procedures at borders and we are hoping to identify ways of making trade simpler and clearer to even the smallest enterprise.

“We also want to harmonise our practices, we have got several agencies at the borders if we can have the same working hours for all border agencies it will be good harmonisation.”

Speaking at the launch, Industry and Commerce permanent secretary Abigail Shonhiwa said the road-map would spell out provisions that Zimbabwe needed to work on to improve and facilitate trade.

“This good plan is not worth anything if not implemented,” she said. — New Ziana.

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