THE Ministry of Regional Integration and International Co-operation has partnered with the World Bank to work on a trade and transport facilitation assessment aimed at identifying key challenges to trade and transport facilitation in Zimbabwe.
It will also help authorities to come up with an action plan for enhancing the country's trade competitiveness.
Speaking at a workshop on regional integration developments held in Harare yesterday, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Tadeous Chifamba, said the assessment would also establish the status of trade facilitation infrastructure, regulatory and policy environment and trade-related institutional arrangements in Zimbabwe.
He said the World Bank was financing the assessment that will assist authorities prepare a remedial strategy and good action plan.
"Zimbabwe has indeed embraced regional integration recognising the inherent benefits of being part of a bigger community, be it Sadc, Comesa, African Union or World Trade Organisation," he said.
He, however, expressed concern at the multiple membership to different customs unions that many Southern and Eastern African countries have been falling victim to and expressed hope that the unions would ensure a seamless transition from a fragmented and overlapping regional integration pattern to a harmonised and consolidated region.
He added that high transport costs and unnecessary delays at border posts were an impediment to the flow of business at borders and this was working against the spirit of regional integration.
"Mention of Chirundu makes us proud as Government given our role in the launch and operationalisation of the one-stop border post.
"We are looking forward to replicate the project on all our busy ports, Beitbridge being top on our priorities. Work is already underway on all border posts albeit at varying stages," Mr Chifamba said.
Mr Chifamba also noted that his ministry was working with relevant stakeholders, with financial assistance from Trade Mark Southern Africa, on a study on co-ordinated border management which would help develop and implement a border efficiency management system that integrates all border management agencies.
The national CBM strategy thus provides a basis for national, regional and international cooperation among all relevant authorities involved in border management, security and trade facilitation, he said.
Mr Chifamba said the introduction of Asycuda World will go a long way in expediting clearance of both inbound and outbound cargo. The system is designed to help countries automate customs processes on the importation or exportation of goods and allows the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to compile accurate trade statistics. It allows for controlled and selected access by other border agencies to data pertaining to their mandated area thereby integrating the process flow for the clearance of cargo.
Zimra was the first revenue authority in the Comesa region to use the system and this has drawn a lot of interest from other countries within the region.