Zambia's industrial sector is up in arms against cheaper imports from neighbouring countries. The country's sole tyre manufacturing company, Dunlop, has closed down and over 190 workers made redundant as a result. Chloride (Zambia) Ltd. and an association of ceramics manufacturers have warned the government that if it does not act quickly in their favour they will also all close their doors to the public.
The closure of Dunlop turned theatrical as a desperate government went down on its knees to plead for it to remain open. "Please, don't go, we have learnt our lesson and we are even ready to ban the importation of tyres if that will save your company," Mr Ackim Nkole, Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry reportedly begged Dunlop's managing director Mr Robert May. But not even Mr Nkole's promise that a bill would soon be tabled in parliament to slap a 50% tariff on imported tyres seemed to please Mr May.
"It is too late to do anything now Mr Minister, your government had four years in which to save our company from closure by banning importation of heavily subsidised tyres from South Africa but all our cries were ignored," Mr May said.
The Deputy Minister who was apparently sent by the President to save face for the government, was told that Zambia had been turned into a market place for cheap products from neighbouring countries and that this was "killing" the local companies.
Dunlop sales director, Mr Jack James told Mr Nkole that Zambia was the only country in the region which was abiding by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) trade protocol, while the rest of the member states were openly flouting it to protect their local industries. He cited Tanzania, which had banned the importation of tyres in violation of the protocol, to protect its Arusha based general tyre manufacturing company which is currently enjoying good business on the local market.
Dunlop, which has been in Zambia for 30 years, is currently dismantling its plant and will only exist as a trading operation of two branches in Ndola and...