WINDHOEK - In the wake of the recent visit to South Africa by British Prime Minister Theresa May, the UK international trade minister complimented Namibia’s tasty beef, which she says she likes.
May and her entourage also visited Kenya for the first time in 30 years that a British prime minister has visited the east African country and she then proceeded to visit oil-producing Nigeria.
“British consumers – including me – are partial to some Mozambican cashews, Namibian beef or South African apples,” said the UK International Trade Minister George Hollingberry who was in the high-profile entourage that accompanied May.
“That’s just part of the reason why the UK government has made it a priority to ensure continuity in trade with Southern Africa as the UK leaves the EU,” gushed Hollingberry.
“We agreed that as the UK leaves the European Union, it is fundamental that we maintain, and then build on, the strong foundation of our economic relationship and boost our mutual prosperity,” said the trade minister on his country’s ambition to broaden its trade with SADC countries.
“Trade in goods and services between the UK and Namibia is already worth nearly £70 million a year. This is another reason we are prioritising the continuity in our trade – because that’s income going to Namibian farmers, producers, and exporters, boosting the Namibian economy,” further stated Hollingberry.
“It’s also a huge boost for British producers, exporters, and our economy. When we work together as partners to deepen our relationship, everyone should win. The partnership between the UK and African countries should be just that – a partnership. One built on close cooperation and based on shared prosperity and shared security,” he stated.
The UK is trying to play catch-up to Beijing that has become Africa’s largest trading partner and May’s visit that came on the verge of FOCAC was seen in this light though Kenya bemoaned the fact no British prime minister has ever visited it over the past 30 years.
The visits by May and Germany chancellor Angela Merkel took place almost at the same time and while they came bearing ‘gifts’ in the long run, they will be hoping for reciprocal benefits as the Americans will say, “there is no free lunch”.
As Brexit looms, May is looking to “deepen and strengthen” the UK’s “global partnerships”, even if it requires busting out awkward dance moves. During her whirlwind African tour, May signed trade deals, pledged more direct government investment and touted the UK’s private sector’s interest as well. Beyond trade, the prime minister also pledged military support to combat terrors caused by Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab in Nigeria and Kenya respectively. UK’s trade with Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria combined was less than 2.5 percent of the value of its trade with the European Union. In contrast, China-Africa trade – albeit one-sided rose 14 percent last year to US$170 billion.
The UK has launched a new prosperity fund programme of up to £8 million to increase trade both within Southern Africa and with the UK, “by helping to tackle barriers to trade. The programme will seek to expand import and export opportunities for African and UK businesses”.
2018-09-04 08:10:09 6 months ago