The COMESA Business Council (CBC) has defended the measure implemented by government in increasing duty for clothing as well as removing clothing items from the travellersâ€™ rebate in the 2012 national budget.The comments by the CBC follow complaints by cross-border traders that the new duty measures which came into effect on the 1st of January are killing the clothing trade industry which relies mainly on imports from Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, China and the United Arab Emirates.
Duty went up from 40% plus 1 dollar 50 per kg to 40% plus 3 dollars per kg for clothing items which were also removed from the travellers rebate.
In an interview with ZBC News, CBC Secretary General, Mr. Trust Chikohora highlighted that there are particular sectors which require protection to facilitate their revival despite the current regional thrust towards increasing trade.
â€œI understand the concerns you raise, but Zimbabwe is coming from a decade of economic decline but now we are seeing economic recovery, we are now seeing the implementation of the MTP aimed at resuscitating the economy. There may be need to protect particular industries for a period of time to make them competitive, so you may have cases where government sees it fit to protect a section of industry, particularly the textiles,â€ he said.
Measures have also been put in place to cushion manufacturers and the agriculture sector from imports which have created stiff competition on the local market.
What however irks local consumers is the high cost of locally-manufactured goods which has in the past seen local business resorting to charging exorbitant prices.
It remains to be seen whether the local clothing and textiles industry will justify protectionist measures.