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Zimbabwe reforms laws to boost declining exports

HARARE (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government is amending at least 16 laws to boost exports which have been on a decline over the years.

The laws are being amended under the Ease of Doing Export Business Rapid Results Initiative to address issues such as high cost of production, complex and burdensome procedures as well as limited access to affordable long-term trade finance.

The initiative is also expected to reduce the cost and time of exporting so as to boost national exports which have fallen significantly in recent years resulting in a widening trade deficit of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2016.

Benison Ntini, chairperson of the thematic group on export regulation, said draft changes had since been made to one of the laws that restricted exports through requirement of export permits for a wide range of products.

“Draft amendments to the Statutory Instrument (8 of 1996) were completed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, only four strategic goods are now left on the list,” Ntini was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper on Tuesday.

He said the four goods that remain on the list are fertilizer, raw and refined sugar, timber and timber products.

Office of the President and Cabinet deputy chief secretary Ray Ndhlukula said the initiative was aimed at improving the ease of doing export business to boost production and value added products.

Challenges facing local industry in exporting goods rendered Zimbabwean products uncompetitive on the international market and expensive locally, he added.

“This therefore negatively affects industrial growth and development,” he said.

Amending regulations that impede export procedures was therefore key to government as it pushes towards export oriented growth, Ndhlukula said.

The country’s export earnings declined from 3.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 to 2.8 billion dollars in 2016.



Uni-visa boosts tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls

HARARE, (Xinhua) -- Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe’s prime holiday destination, the Victoria Falls, have increased steadily since the re-launch of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) uni-visa in December last year, an official said Tuesday.

The uni-visa allows visitors to stay in Zambia or Zimbabwe (or both) for up to 30 days for a single payment of 50 U.S. dollars.

It also covers people who want to enter Botswana for day-trips through the Kazungula border post.

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism representative for Matabeleland North, Barbara Murasiranwa was quoted by state-run new agency as saying that arrivals had increased by about 15 percent since re-introduction of the visa regime.

“Arrivals into Victoria Falls via Zambia had gone down prior to the re-launch of the uni-visa, but right now arrivals improved significantly because tourists can just arrive in Zambia and then proceed to Zimbabwe after paying just 50 dollars and they can still go back to Zambia or Zimbabwe again without facing any problems for a month,” she said.

The uni-visa regime was first introduced during the 2014 United Nations World Tourism Organization general assembly that was cohosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia.

However, the uni-visa collapsed in December 2015 due to logistical and legal challenges.

Authorities had initially planned to roll out the uni-visa across five countries in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area comprising Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls is primed to receive more tourists after expansion of Victoria Falls Airport by a Chinese company at a cost of 150 million dollars.

The expansion increased handling capacity to 1.5 million passengers per year from 500,000.


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