• April 9th, 2020

Uncertainty over Iran-backed tractor assembly plant

WINDHOEK - Economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions imposed by the United States (US) against Iran are set to be holding up the N$150 million tractor assembly plant that has been earmarked for Windhoek. 

In May 2017, an Iranian business delegation hosted by Omusati governor, Erginus Endjala, visited Namibia to explore investment opportunities and expressed interest to set up a tractor assembly plant at Brakwater with the hope of bolstering employment. 

An agreement to assemble Iranian-designed tractors was concluded in the same year between the ministry of agriculture and the investors from the Middle East. 

Tractors rolling off the assembly line were to be branded as a product of Namibia and ready for export to interested countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a potential market of 400 million people. 

The tractor assembly plant was to be a joint venture between the Iranian Tractor Manufacturing Company, which will own 30 percent, and a local firm called Vispa Investment Holdings, which was to control 70 percent of the shareholding. Endjala, speaking to New Era yesterday, said the whole project appeared to have hit a snag when tension started mounting between the US and the Iranian government. 

In May 2018, US leader Donald Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, and subsequently re-imposed a wide range of economic sanctions on the country. 

“It has become very difficult to trade with Iran while there are sanctions imposed against them but we are hopeful that the sanctions will be lifted so that we can sign a new agreement with the Iranian company,” Endjala said briefly. 

It is now almost certain that these sanctions won’t be lifted anytime soon considering the massive fallout caused by the US airstrike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani last week. Soleimani was one of the most powerful figures in Iran and headed the country’s elite Quds military force. 

Both the US and Iran have threatened each other, with Trump tweeting on Saturday that his government would target 52 Iranian sites if the Islamic nation retaliates for the strike that killed Soleimani. Iranian Ambassador to Namibia, Vahid Karimi, in an interview with New Era this week in the aftermath of Soleimani’s assassination by US armed forces in Iraq described Trump as a unique president: who disobeys even the internal laws of the US. “The procedure for his impeachment inside the country is going on; it looks (like) he wants to distract the attention from his impeachment and wrongdoing – that is why he is doing something wrong in the Middle East. Yes, he is not only violating international laws, but his misbehavior was an act of war,” said the outgoing Iranian Ambassador to Namibia.



Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-01-08 08:10:24 | 3 months ago

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