The introduction in the coming months of a new customs tariff in Angola is feeding expectations among economic agents that replacing the current regime will be a stimulus to the country’s growth.
A new customs tariff system, submitted to the Council of Ministers and expected to be implemented this year, proposes cuts on import duties on foodstuffs such as fruit and vegetables, cooking oils and grains (including wheat flour), as well as raw materials such as iron, steel and aluminium products as well as second-hand cars, the Angolan press reported.
The aim is to replace the existing customs tariff system – introduced in 2014 before the start of the economic and financial crisis now facing the country – which is generally regarded as protectionist of local farmers and manufacturers, seeking to make imports more expensive in order to encourage diversification f an economy that is highly dependent on oil.
The current tariff has been the subject of much criticism from local and international companies as well as from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In its most recent report on Angola, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said replacing the current tariff would likely be a positive move, as it had the effect of increasing the cost of domestic production and reducing competition in the market.
Despite tariff protection, the EIU points out that operational challenges – such as a lack of electricity, poor supply chain management and lack of human resources – have kept the country dependent on imports.
In addition to this, the fall in the price of oil following the introduction of the 2014 tariff has limited access to foreign currency for Angolan companies, making payments to suppliers abroad difficult and, as the kwanza has weakened, imports have become significantly more expensive.
“If and when (the new tariff is) applied, the cost of imports should fall and this should help fight inflation. A less protectionist customs regime should also stimulate Angola’s trade with its neighbours and can help the country finally meet the long-standing promise of joining the Southern African Development Community’s free trade zone,” the EIU said.
“A review of Angola’s current punitive customs regime should give a positive boost to the national economy. However, it is still unclear when the new tariffs will be applied,” it said.
In 2016, Angola formalised its accession to the International Convention for the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Kyoto Convention) of the World Customs Organisation, which aims to facilitate international trade.
Each acceding country has a deadline of 36 months to apply the general rules of this agreement, which provides for the minimisation of customs controls between members, thus facilitating and simplifying international trade.
All member states of the European Union have signed the Kyoto Convention along with China, Australia, India, Canada and the United States of America, and African countries such as Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (macauhub)