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ZIMBABWEAN exporters will now enjoy preferential tariffs on their exports to European markets after a new policy, the European Union-East and Southern Africa (EU-ESA) interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) was introduced this week.

The new agreement will effectively remove tariffs that have been hampering competitiveness of Zimbabwean products on the European market.

For Zimbabwe, the goods exempted from export tariffs will include products of animal origin, cereals, beverages, paper, plastics and rubber, textiles and clothing, footwear, glass and ceramics as well as consumer electronics and vehicles.

Zimbabwean industries have been exporting sugar cane, raw leather and beneficiated leather products, beef and horticultural products to Europe prior to the implementation of the fast-track land reform programme of the 2000s.

The land reform programme, which resulted in violent seizure of white-owned farms damaged the country’s business image and discouraged investors.

On September 27, the official Journal of the European Union post (C390/3) concerning the application by Zimbabwe of Article 18(3) of Protocol 1 on rules of origin to the EU-ESA iEPA use of self-certification for imports into the EU of products originating in Zimbabwe under the EU-ESA iEPA offered a new lifeline for Zimbabwean exports.

“Following a notification made by Zimbabwe to the customs co-operation committee of the EU-ESA iEPA activating Article 18(3) of Protocol 1 to the EU-ESA iEPA (1), from 1 July 2021 products originating in Zimbabwe shall, on importation into the EU, benefit from the preferential tariff treatment of the iEPA upon submission of an invoice declaration made out as provided for in Article 23 of Protocol 1,” read part of the notice.

This, according to the notice, will be done by a Zimbabwean exporter registered in the EU’s registered exporter system (the REX system), or any Zimbabwean exporter where the total value of the originating products consigned does not exceed EUR 6 000.

The notice, the EU said, was issued for the information of customs authorities, importers and economic operators, which are involved in imports into the EU of products originating in Zimbabwe under the iEPA.

“From that date, paragraphs 1(a) and (b) of Article 18 ceased to apply for imports into the EU from Zimbabwe.

“Therefore, from 1 July 2021, movement certificates EUR.1 and invoice declarations made out by approved exporters are no longer valid to claim preferential tariff treatment under the EU-ESA iEPA,” reads the notice.

The agreement contains, among other things, a market-access deal with Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.

Other agreed chapters include issues such as rules of origin, development co-operation, fisheries, trade, defence and dispute settlement mechanisms.

The interim EPA offers duty free quota free access for all imports from ESA as of January 1 2008.

ESA will liberalise its market to EU imports in line with the individual schedules annexed to the interim EPA.

ESA States decided their own schedules to liberalise trade with the EU.

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