THE International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) says a letter of support by government to the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) is inadequate, scuttling plans by the chamber to adopt the s
talled ATA Carnet system.
The ATA Carnet system is an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods up to one year.
It covers commercial samples, professional equipment and goods for presentation or use at trade fairs, shows and exhibitions.
The service is available to business executives, exhibitors at trade fairs and travelling professionals.
Responding to the ZNCC, World Chamber Federation (WCF)/World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC) ICC administrative director Alain Destouches said a letter of support by government was inadequate.
“In our views, and unless we are mistaken, it does not appear that the letter dated April 8 2003 from the Ministry of Finance constitutes an unconditional agreement empowering ZNCC, as future national guaranteeing and issuing body for ATA Carnets in Zimbabwe, to receive from foreign ATA organisations, and maybe more importantly, to remit to foreign ATA organisations any funds connected with the operation of the ATA Carnet system as laid down in the last paragraph of Article 3 of the ATA Protocol (Document 550/212 Rev. 2) which has to be signed, stamped, and dated by ZNCC legal representative,” he said.
Destouches said in the Protocol (Document 550/212 Rev. 2) and the statement (Document 550/521 Rev 1) they had received from ZNCC, the name and title of the signatory was not appearing at the bottom of the last page, as requested.
As such, Destouches said, ICC does not know the person who has effectively signed these two documents as well as its legal position and business title in the Chamber.
He said the Protocol and statement would form the basic contractual framework to the future legal and financial relations between ZNCC and its sister organisations in the 58 countries, which are already members of the ATA Chain.
ICC asked ZNCC in March to renew their application as it dated in 1999.
ICC said it was wary whether exhibitors would be permitted to remit their proceeds in foreign currency.
Failure by ZNCC to adopt the system would deal a body blow to the chamber, which has been preparing for the system for a long time.
In February a team of experts from the South Africa Chamber of Business (SACOB) bankrolled by the Italian Corporation trained ZNCC and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials to equip them with knowhow on the system.
Armed with the system sales representatives, exhibitors and other business executives can make customs arrangements at predetermined costs, visit more than one country, and use their carnet system for trips during its one-year validity.
Each country in the system has a single guaranteeing body approved by the national customs authorities and the ICC World Chambers Federation.
The national guaranteeing association is entitled to issue carnets and authorize local chambers on the national territory to deliver them on their behalf.
World Customs Organisation (WCO) administers the international customs convention under which ATA Carnets operate.
Within ICC World Chamber Federation, WATAC runs the system and its international guarantee chain.
The council is made up of representatives from all the 58 countries on territories where carnets are issued and accessed.
ATA Carnet system was necessitated by the need to encourage free movement of goods for exhibition among member countries.
Custom duties are seen as an inhibiting factor to trade.
Under the new system, all that exhibitors needed was a certificate to be exempted from paying customs duty.
ZNCC would be the guarantor for the Carnet certificate holders in the event of defaults.
The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC), an arm of the central bank that is mandated to promote exports, would be the final guarantor.
If Zimbabwe completes the requirements, it becomes the eighth country on the continent to use the Carnet system after Mauritius, South Africa, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia.