By Enacy Mapakame
Government is considering the addition of second-hand vehicle imports from Japan on the list for conformity assessment in order to protect consumers from sub-standard vehicles as well as to promote local assemblers.
This means that if approved, all vehicle imports from Japan will be subject to evaluation by Bureau Veritas and issued with conformity assessment certificates before they can be allowed into the country.
Zimbabwe is currently the only country that allows car imports from Japan to enter the country without conformity assessment certificates, subjecting local consumers to sub-standard vehicles.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said the country had the flexibility to add more products on the list as well as to remove some from the list.
Although the process could be costly, Minister Bimha said the benefits would outweigh the perceived costs of such a move.
“In a number of countries, cars from Japan especially cannot just come into countries due to issues to do with radiation,” he said responding to questions at a recent media briefing.
“Some countries are very strict about the importation of cars from Japan, which I think we need to move towards to as well.
“It is incumbent for every country to ensure its citizens are protected against sub-standard products. It may be costly but the benefits outweigh the cost,” he said.
The importation of second-hand vehicles has been a contentious issue as local assemblers feel short-changed over the loss of business.
The market, however, prefers the imports due to affordability, compared to locally manufactured vehicles.
During the first half of 2016, car imports into the country amounted to $250 million down from $365 million during the same period in 2015 on tighter duty tariffs coupled with liquidity challenges.
At the close of 2015, $469 million was spent on vehicle imports from $452 million used for the same purpose in 2014, adding to the huge import bill.
Top sources for car imports in Zimbabwe are Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Germany, according to Zimstats.
While there have been some sticky issues with Bureau Veritas especially with regards to delays in issuing out conformity certificates, Minister Bimha said there had been a general remarkable improvement in the quality of goods that are imported into the country.The Herald