'Cement' batteries, disguised palm oil entering Zim's borders

'Cement' batteries, disguised palm oil entering Zim's borders
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) vice-president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe
Published: 23 June 2015
Automotive batteries filled with cement or broken glass and palm oil disguised as soya-bean oil are some of the shoddy imports making their way through the country's porous borders, in contravention of standing World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules regarding anti-dumping and rules of origin edicts.

An excessively high level of imports has compromised the capacity of Zimbabwe's productive sectors. Zimbabwe's import bill is forecast to hit $8,3 billion this year from $7,6 billion in 2013 against exports of $4,4 billion and $5 billion, respectively.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) vice-president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said their researches had shown that some businesses exporting into Zimbabwe are deliberately side-stepping international trade regulations.

"There are some products that are being made specifically for the Zimbabwean market because the producers want to land them at the cheapest price possible so as to gain the United States dollar that we are using.

"For example in terms of some cooking oil imports, an investigation was done and a product that had been labeled as originating out of South Africa and having been manufactured out of soya oil, actually turned out to be manufactured out of palm oil, which is a lower quality form of oil and which causes certain health problems," he said.

Some of the downsides of palm oil is that it contains high levels of saturated fats, which can be a significant threat to cardiovascular health; it is difficult to digest and can cause toxicity.

"And there are instances where those in the cooking oil sector have studied imported products to find out why they are so cheap, they have actually find out that there were soap ingredients in some cooking oil products."

The committee also heard of rampant instances of imported automotive batteries full of concrete instead of the key component - lead.

"We have cases that we have identified in the battery manufacturing industry where the local manufacturers buy old batteries which have been used by local manufacturers to access the lead for recycling and they have been quite a number of batteries, which have been bought by local manufacturers in recent months which when they break and try and access the lead for recycling, they find that maybe 75 percent of the batteries are full of concrete or broken glass which suggests that that is a deliberate ploy by the original manufacturer of that product from which ever country they are made to sell a product that does not meet the standard product requirements. These cases are rampant," said Mr Jabangwe.

And within the same sector, CZI also reported cases of deliberate mislabeling, whereby some local importers have been bringing in automotive batteries labeled as solar batteries, which they then re-label on sale to local consumers.

The importation of automotive batteries attracts a 60 percent duty, while the duty on solar batteries is much less, reflecting corrupt practices at the borders.

Local industry has for long complained at the negative impact of the high level of imports on local production. CZI however maintains that although the import duties are "adequate", the organisation claims there are shortcomings in respect of implementation.

The Government has however since hired French-based firm, Bureau Veritas, to carry out pre-shipment inspection of goods coming into the country.

Pre-shipment inspection is a part of supply chain management and an important quality control method for checking the quality of goods clients buy from suppliers. It helps to ensure that production complies with specifications of the buyer and/or the terms of a purchase order or letter of credit.
- BH24
Tags: Zimbabwe,

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