import ban

Zambian policy think-tank hails reversal of veg import ban

The Zambia Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) has hailed the reversal of the agricultural import ban.

ZIPAR research fellow Francis Ziba said import restrictions had trade-distorting effects and created problems with administration and transparency.

“This type of quick fix solution is quite problematic for Zambia. Therefore, government’s decision to reverse the ban on the importation of fruit and vegetables will help avoid trade effects,” Ziba said.

Last month, the ministry of agriculture announced a ban on the import of agricultural products including tomatoes, onions and potatoes, ostensibly to stimulate local growth. Government has since back-tracked from the decision citing trade commitments to the Central and Southern African Markets (COMESA) and other regional bodies.

Ziba said the ban would also have been against the principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), of which Zambia is a signatory. “WTO prohibits restrictions on the importation or sale of products from other member states although it has a few justifiable exceptions.”

On calls by Zambian farmers to impose stiff import duties on agricultural products to level the playing field, Ziba urged government to consider subsidising farmers.

“Providing subsidies to farmers can grow their capabilities to respond to the local and international demand for agricultural products,” Ziba said.

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