Govt waives raw wine import duty

HARARE - Zimbabwe is to suspend customs duty on imports of raw wine until December 31, 2017, the government has announced.

The excise duty exemption for manufacturers came into force on January 1, 2017, according to the latest Government Gazette.

According to the schedule, only wine of an alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 14 percent and not exceeding 30 000 litres, will be imported duty-free.

Local wine distillers import raw wine in order to augment local production, which is currently subdued.

“The Finance minister.., in terms of section 235 as read with section 120 of the Customs and Excise Act (Chapter 23:02) has made the following regulations.

“These regulations may be cited as the Customs and Excise (Suspension) (Amendment) regulations 2016, (No.162),” the government gazette read.

“The Customs and Excise (Suspension) regulations, 2003, published in statutory Instrument 257 of 2003, are amended by the insertion of the following section 9(W).

“Suspension of duty on raw wine imported by approved manufacturers. In this section ‘approved wine manufacturer’ means any importer approved and licensed by the minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation in consultation with the minister of Industry and Commerce to import raw wine in quantities not exceeding volumes specified in the schedule below.”

Some of the country’s biggest raw wine importers set to benefit from the waiver is wines and spirits maker, African Distillers (Afdis), Westside Distribution, and others.

The new regulations will only apply to raw wine imported entirely for the manufacture of wine.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said in the 2017 National Budget that wine distillers have been victims of double taxation, and government was moving to suspend excise duty to promote local beneficiation.

“After processing into potable wine, it is, further, subject to excise duty at wholesale price. There is, thus, an element of double taxation on raw wine, which discourages value-addition.

“Imported wines, on the other hand, attract customs and excise duty at the point of importation, thus, creating an uneven playing field between imported and locally produced wines,” Chinamasa said.

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