Amid critical shortages of foodstuffs and other essential goods in Zimbabwe markets, Harare has suspended import duties on basic commodities for three months.
Products which can now be imported free of customs duties for personal use include rice, cooking oil, toothpaste, margarine, flour, salt, bath soap and washing soap.
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that customs duties have been waived so imports can augment local supplies.
Previously consumers bringing goods into the country had to pay tariffs of 45%. Many Zimbabweans make regular trips to neighboring countries, in particular South Africa, to stock up on goods that can only be found on the black market at high prices.
Economist Dennis Nikisi, head of the University of Zimbabwe’s Graduate School of Management, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the policy change shows Harare understands the gravity of food shortages.