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Zimbabwe garment makers warn against import duty-cut
02
Feb '12
Zimbabwe garment and textile producers have turned down Finance Minister Tendai Biti's proposal to reduce import duty on fabrics and garments. They have forewarned that reducing import duty would harm the domestic garment and textile industry.

Last week, the Finance Minister had declared that the Government would cut the duty on import of garments and textiles, following concerns raised by local clothing and textile importers over the increase in duty implemented from January 1 this year, adhering to the 2012 Budget.

The Minister, in his US$ 4 billion National Budget Statement for 2012, retained the duty on some particular import items, and raised the duty on textile and clothing items' imports from 40 percent +US$ 1 per kg to 40 percent + US$ 3 per kg.

The duty on textiles and clothing was raised following apprehensions that cheap imports risked the subsistence of the country's garment and textile industry, which is struggling to overcome the impact of economic instability for over a decade.

However, those trading in imported textiles and clothing strongly protested this saying that increase in duty has made imports more costly.

The Secretary General of the clothing sector's National Employment Council (NEC), Mr. Justice Mashinti said a cut in import duty at this juncture could result in closure of more firms in the country's garment and textile industry.

He said the Minister raised the duty in view of demands of the textile and clothing producers. There are no positive results so far and the industry is still at risk and the firms were scaling down their operations, which has resulted in a drop in number of employees from 25,000 prior to 2009, to 6,000 now.

Mr. Mashinti said the Minister's decision to hike the duty followed strong lobbying by garment manufacturers, and the domestic industry needs to be shielded against low-cost imports, as influx of these goods still continues, and is badly distorting the country's business sphere. Also, it is adversely affecting the re-capitalization efforts, he added.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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