WINDHOEK - Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Charles Owiredu has encouraged Namibia to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Last year, Namibia finally signed the trillion-dollar AfCFTA, which requires members to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods to allow free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.
However, Namibia did not yet ratify the agreement, which trade minister Tjekero Tweya is expected to table in the National Assembly for its adoption and ratification.
The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.
“The need to strengthen our economic cooperation cannot be overemphasised. Through our collective efforts, we must encourage private sector investment in our respective countries and improve trade between our two countries, taking advantage not only of our bilateral agreements but also the multilateral ones such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, of which both countries are signatories. We encourage our Namibian counterparts to ratify the Agreement,” Owiredu noted.
Besides Namibia and South Africa – Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Burundi also signed the agreement last year, but Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama at the time told Daily Maverick his country needed to finish its internal consultation process first before committing to anything. This means South Africa is the biggest economy to have signed the agreement so far.
Inking the deal will indicate Namibia’s shift from a protectionist stance, celebrated by particularly local manufacturers but heavily criticised by protagonists of trade liberalisation who believe the removal or reduction of tariff obstacles would boost trade and jobs.
The core of the argument is that nascent industries often do not have the economies of scale that their competitors, often foreign, may have, and thus need to be protected until they can attain similar economies of scale. Neighbours South Africa, from which Namibia procures 80 percent of its imports, also signed the agreement last weekend. South Africa initially declined to sign at the special summit in Kigali in March 2018 where 44 out of the 55 AU member states signed.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday stressed the importance of AfCTA and Namibia ensuring the agreement is operational.
She said currently only about 18 countries have ratified and deposited their instruments in this regard.
“As we all know, trade amongst African nations in minimal,” she remarked.
She said the subdued global trade could be a major reason, as it has impacted African economies differently, some through falling commodity prices and others through the shrinking demand for manufactured goods.
Hence, the minister emphasised the need to find innovative ways of increasing intra-Africa trade.
In order to diversify their economies, she called on the need to develop value chains that are based on raw materials available in their countries so as to strengthen local and national value chains for efficient linkages within the economies to enable ease of doing business, dialogue and smart partnerships between governments and the private sector.
“I enjoin our business community to interact more with their Ghanaian counterparts and explore viable investment opportunities through joint ventures in various sectors,” she encouraged.
She noted Namibia is relentlessly searching for niche markets for its products and services, thus it is her belief Ghana could be a viable option for the export of Namibian products.
There has been good progress recorded between Namibia and Ghana in their bilateral cooperation.
The two nations have so far signed six agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and 14 more are set to be negotiated during the third session of the Namibia-Ghana Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation underway in Windhoek.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the 14 more agreements to be negotiated during the meeting will cover a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, mines and energy, education, health, trade and investment, environment and tourism, transport and communication, science and technology, maritime affairs, fisheries and aquaculture, sports and youth development.
“Let us dedicate ourselves to conclude those agreements currently being negotiated to ensure mutual benefit for our people,” she said.
Owiredu said these areas would provide the framework for enhancing the levels of partnership and cooperation between Ghana and Namibia.
Similarly, Nandi-Ndaitwah said the two countries have excellent military cooperation as Namibia’s military personnel continually attend training at the Ghana armed forces command and staff college.
Further, Nandi-Ndaitwah said the national airline Air Namibia flies to Accra four times a week, and thereby fosters closer people-to-people exchange.
The Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) signed in 2007, allowed Air Namibia flights between Windhoek and Accra. The resumption of flights to Ghana by Air Namibia was as a result of continuous engagements between the two countries.
2019-02-26 09:16:03 4 months ago