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Zimbabwe and South Africa have started negotiations to deal with challenges posed by the requirement that local drug exports destined for or going via South Africa must be airlifted, says Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha.

Noting that pharmaceuticals which are exported from Zimbabwe to South Africa or to other countries through South Africa must be airlifted to Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, he says this makes Zimbabwe's pharmaceuticals more expensive.

We also import pharmaceuticals from South Africa but we do not have that (air transportation_ requirement, we allow them to pass through Beit Bridge (border crossing) hence their pharmaceuticals become more competitive than ours. We have agreed that we will allow the ministers responsible for health to discuss and probably come up with a recommendation to the ministers responsible for trade.

Bimha says such measures has also led to the shrinking of Zimbabwe's pharmaceutical industry.

Zimbabwe's pharmaceutical sector has shrunk heavily over the past decade, leaving the country to rely on imports and donated drugs.

Before 2000, the local pharmaceutical industry used to supply more than 75 per cent of the country's drug requirements, but this has since dropped to about 35 per cent.

Last year, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association of Zimbabwe said drug imports were choking local industry as they were neither charged for Customs duty, import tax nor Value Added Tax while raw materials used by local drug manufacturers attract import duty.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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