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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Mushuma Mulenga has disclosed that the average clearance time for imports is now 7 days, 1 hour and 36 minutes.

This is in accordance to the significant result of the Chirundu Time Release Study Report that he launched on Behalf of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Mulenga noted that this is an improvement in comparison to the times when imported goods took weeks to clear.

However, he admitted that there is still much to be done to improve the process to meet international standard with an average clearance time of 5 hours.

Mr. Mulenga has since urged the concerned Government Agencies to find appropriate innovations to further reduce the clearance times, thereby reducing delays and dwell time at borders by the business community.

The Permanent Secretary explained that in fulfilling the commitment made at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and in particular Article 7.6 of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which encourages Member States to carry out periodic Time Release Studies and the establishment and publication of average release times, this Study is meant to identify bottlenecks in the trade flow processes and take necessary measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures.

He further mentioned that COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively the normal way of doing business and therefore affecting the facilitation of trade adding that despite the efforts made in implementing the trade facilitation reform agenda, the country has been faced with congestion of trucks waiting for clearance at the borders, which is contrary to trade facilitation.

Mr. Mulenga noted it is for this reason that nation should find innovative ways of doing business such as embracing Information Communication Technology to improve clearance time and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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