WINDHOEK – Despite numerous bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) between Namibia and Angola, the southern African neighbours both agree that their economic cooperation has not improved over the years.
This was the view of both countries yesterday, which are convening a 5th Session of the Namibia-Angola Joint Commission of Cooperation this week to review some bilateral agreements signed between the two nations.
According to the available statistics as provided by the Namibia Statistics Agency end of 2017, Namibia’s exports to Angola declined by 80 percent during the period of 2015 to 2016.
This decline caused a combined trade loss of N$3.2 billion over the two-year period.
The commission will consider, among others, the review of the implementation of over 40 signed bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding in a wide range of sectors.
These sectors include trade and investment; education; health; environment; tourism; energy; fisheries and cross-border connectivity.
The majority of these agreements affect mostly the livelihood of the people living along the common border of the two countries.
In October 2005 the two countries, which share more than 460 kilometres of border, between land and water, signed the visa-free agreement on diplomatic, service and ordinary passports.
Ambassador Afonso Evaristo Edwardo, director of Africa, Middle East Regional Organisation representing Angola during the meeting, who spoke through an interpreter, yesterday said the current level of trade between his country and Namibia is not satisfactory, given the strong historical links the two countries share.
“On the political level, the relations are at a good place, but on the economic level, is not so good. We hope our deliberations will be fruitful to strengthen our bilateral relations,” Edwardo said.
Edwardo said it is important to make sure that a common understanding of trade regulations exists in both countries.
He also noted with great concern the non-implementation of signed agreements and MoUs, saying some don’t even have timelines, which makes it difficult to do follow-ups once entered into.
International Relations and Cooperation Executive Director Selma Ashipala-Musavyi on her part also said both countries have signed many agreements and MoUs.
“I believe we will both agree that the significance lies not in the number of agreements concluded but in the timely and effective implementation of those agreements and MoUs, so as to impact the lives and livelihood of our people. And this is and should be the primary focus of our commission for cooperation,” she noted.
She noted the signing of the framework of the agreement on general cooperation between the governments of Angola and Namibia on the basis of which the Namibia-Angola Joint Commission of Cooperation was established.
She maintained that both countries’ bilateral relations are rooted in a common history and share the heritage of the struggle against colonialism and foreign domination. As such, she said, Namibia and Angola are not just good neighbours but also strategic partners.
Hence, she said, this partnership can only be strengthened by regular interaction.
Additionally, she revealed, they will consider a large number of issues such as trade and investment, transport, cross-border connectivity, agriculture and water management, finance, people-to-people contact, and many others.
“People-to-people contact is natural, for our cooperation is people-centred. I would like, therefore, to reiterate that our joint efforts to promote economic growth and sustainable development for our two countries should enjoy priority,” she added.
Both countries are connected by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
As coastal states, Ashipala-Musavyi said, there is need to harness the marine resources as well as take full advantage of the blue economy, which is an important and emerging pillar of international relations.
The meeting, which started yesterday, is expected to end on Sunday in Windhoek.
2019-07-11 08:35:24 8 days ago