Minister of Industrialisation and Trade Lucia Iipumbu said a number of export markets have been secured for Namibian exporters, including in Africa, and encouraged all local producers to seize opportunities of continental access.
Iipumbu made these remarks when she officiated at the first Namibia Annual Exporter Awards last week. The awards were held in collaboration between the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID TradeHub) and Namibia Manufacturers Association (NMA).
“Hence, the call is now upon you, entrepreneurs, to work hard and utilise the opportunity made available for you to thrive globally and contribute to the country’s foreign exchange reserves through export earnings,” said Iipumbu.
The awards had three categories, namely: Exporter of the year to South Africa, which was won by Plastic Packaging; Exporter of the Year to the United States, which won by Meatco – and thirdly, the overall Exporter of the Year, which went to Plastic Packaging.
Plastic Packaging manufacturers recycles and distributes plastic products in Namibia, Angola and South Africa’s Northern Cape. Their offering spans a wide range of markets, such as the retail and wholesale industry, industrial sector, agriculture, fishing industry, mining, meat processing, dairy industry, catering and food processing as well as any other segment that requires packaging products.
Meatco is Namibia’s national meat-processing and marketing entity. The minister said Namibia has an open economy that is susceptible to global market competition – and, as a result, the country has been experiencing a negative balance of payment over the years due to exceeding imports higher than exports as a result of a limited production basket.
“Besides high-tech products and consumables, which forms part of Namibia’s main imports, Namibia continues to import large quantities of basic commodities and other products that our business community can venture into. There is, therefore, an opportunity for Namibia to increase production capacity – and, as a result, increase exports,” she added.
The trade minister continued that one of the notable trade arrangements Namibia currently focusses on is the market opportunity for products into the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is a non-reciprocal unilateral trade arrangement aimed at strengthening trade and investment relations between the US and the sub-Saharan African region through the promotion of free-market systems, reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers.
It is through this arrangement that Namibian meat and meat products were able to enter the USA market.
The trade minister said Namibia continues to appreciate continuous support from the USAID TradeHub, which has assisted Namibia in developing AGOA utilisation strategy. She added that the strategy seeks to increase Namibia’s exports under the AGOA program, which allows Namibia to export over 6 400 products on a duty-free to the United States of America.
The strategy further provides a prioritised roadmap on how Namibia can increase its exports to the United States under the duty-free market access under AGOA, and it recommends steps to address the policy, supply-side and market challenges faced by potential Namibian exporters.
The impact of Covid-19 and other external factors facing world economies have negatively contributed to domestic industries in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, mining and tourism.
“Despite several economic challenges that face our people, this event seeks to recognise the outstanding performance and extraordinary efforts by our business people who make strides in overcoming market entry hurdles and achieving successful and consistent trade,” Iipumbu concluded.