Mozambique has introduced new transit fees for chemicals passing through the country, a development that has attracted protests from chemical importers in Malawi.
Mozambique is now charging transit fees of between US$300 and US$500 for permits to allow the transportation of agriculture chemicals, inks and fertilisers among others through the country.
The new permits have taken many importers by surprise, some of whom have now launched complaints with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI).
The levies are being charged on every truck carrying pesticides or chemicals and the process for applying for the permits takes five days to be completed.
MCCCI Public Private Dialogue Forum Economist Hope Chavula said in an interview that the confederation has received complaints from its members on the matter and that the issue has been taken up with the government.
Ministry of Industry and Trade publicist Wiskes Nkombezi confirmed that the ministry has been informed by the private sector about the new developments in Mozambique.
He said, however, that the ministry is yet to make its own findings on the matter but was quick to indicate that such a levy would qualify as a trade barrier that will affect several countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe who normally use Mozambique as a transit country to the sea for their trade.
“We will be engaging with our Mozambican counterparts on a bilateral basis and we will also be engaging the Sadc secretariat on the matter,” said Nkombezi.
He said a query has also been posted on the on-line reporting mechanism for non-tariff barriers under the Comesa-EAC-Sadc arrangement,” said Nkombezi.
He said there are several protocols that regulate such matters at both regional and international level, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).