The Zambian government has cut the excise duty on unprocessed and semi-processed timber by 75%. This emboldened farmers to ask that the 10% export duty on raw maize also be waived.
According to the Statutory Instrument (SI) 40 effected on June 2, 2017, unprocessed and semi-processed wood products will now attract an export duty of K1.50/kg instead of K10/kg. Earlier this year, government introduced a K10/kg export levy on timber products, ostensibly to promote value-addition.
“The reduction of the export excise duty will make Zambian timber competitive in the region,” said Zambia National Association of Sawmillers (ZANAS) president William Bwalya.
In a related development, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) said government must also reconsider the 10% export duty on maize. They believe it makes Zambian grain uncompetitive in the region.
“It just makes our case very strong as there is more benefit to be gained by the nation from overturning the export duty on maize,” said a source close to the negotiations.
Government however maintains that the 10% export duty will stay put.
Zambia expected to harvest 3.6 million tons of maize this year, a 25% increase from last year. But the bumper harvest has brought little cheer for maize growers as the price for the commodity took a dive from about K85/50kg during the last season to K50/50kg now. This left the export market as the only viable option for farmers to get a good return on their crop.