Trade minister Lucia Iipumbu remains confident that Namibia will reap maximum benefits from intra-African trade. This, in turn, will significantly contribute to the recovery of the struggling domestic economy which is suffering from a recession and was subsequently ravaged by Covid-19.
Highlighting some of the intra-African trade initiatives poised to improve regional and local growth, Iipumbu noted that Namibia and Zambia recently conducted bilateral discussions on the establishment of a one-stop border. This seeks to improve trade facilitation by ensuring the efficient and timely movement of people, goods and services at the common borders.
“All efforts made towards harmonising border operations clearly indicate how authorities are committed to facilitating corridor economic activities. As a partner institution, the trade ministry launched an online Import and Export system (IMEX) to streamline cross-border trading,” she explained while responding to questions in parliament from United Democratic Front (UDF) president Apius Auchab last week. Auchab earlier expressed concern over the structure of corridor institutions, particularly their operations and capacity to provide tangible solutions in dealing with corridor bottlenecks, non-tariff barriers and the overall performance of the corridors.
In response, the trade minister highlighted digital platforms which would benefit cross-border operators in terms of a simplified, transparent and harmonised system for ease of cross-border trading. “Another ongoing project is the national single window to simplify trade and investment procedures, and enable the smooth movement of goods across borders. With all these developments, I believe that Namibia’s current structures are ready to handle intra-African trade,” she continued.
Furthermore, Iipumbu said the corridor institutions continuously carry out performance assessments and monitoring exercises that help address corridor bottlenecks.
“This is evident that as a country, we are committed and ready to eliminate challenges or bottlenecks that can affect the movement of goods and services along the economic corridors,” she observed.
Part of the interventions currently implemented entail the ASYCUDA Programme that enables customs documentation to be processed via an automated system. As a result, border crossing processes and the clearance of documents are faster and simpler, partly through the ASYCUDA Programme that provides technical assistance for managing international trade and transport operations in a modern automated environment.
According to the trade minister, Namibia has invested heavily in improving infrastructure such as ports, roads, rail and airports to stimulate economic activities as well as unlock and facilitate international trade.
This also includes the expansion and deepening of the Port of Walvis Bay, which increased the capacity to handle more cargo and receive larger vessels.
Iipumbu emphasised that the Port of Walvis Bay is one of Africa’s most efficient and secure facilities with excellent infrastructure and equipment reliable for cargo handling. These investments, she stated, were made to ensure efficient intermodal transport.