Namibia warms to deeper free trade

12 June 2018 | Business

Namibia is taking steps to ensure it will not be left out of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) area which, when fully adopted, will create a single trade market for Africa's 55 member states.

Justice minister Sacky Shanghala and delegations from his ministry and the attorney-general's office are currently in Dakar, Senegal in order to complete annexes to the Protocol on Trade in Goods and the Protocol on the Rules and Procedures for Settlement of Disputes.

There are currently nine annexes to the trade protocol, as well as the three to the rules and procedures protocol, which have been debated and approved by the specialised technical committee on justice and legal affairs, according to Shanghala.

According to him, the second phase of the negotiations will focus on investment, intellectual property and copyright and competition. “These negotiations will commence in August 2018,” he said.

Under the agreement, a threshold of 22 countries is required for the pact to enter into force. At present only Ghana and Kenya have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Locally, trade minister Tjekero Tweya will have to conduct stakeholder consultations before Namibia will be in a position to ratify the agreement, Shanghala said.

Namibia did not sign the agreement on the launch AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda because a process of national consultation on the final agreement is yet to take place.

Namibia's chief negotiator at the AfCFTA, Annacsy Mwanyangapo, was quoted as saying that while Namibia has fully participated in the negotiations of the agreement, the last rounds leading to the legal scrubbing of the instruments and their final adoption by all the relevant AU structures up to the assembly happened sequentially, leaving Namibia, and similarly some other countries, with no time to undertake and complete their constitutional or legal requirements before 21 March.

A total 44 of the 53 countries signed for the launch of the AfCFTA.

Under the new agreement proposed by the African Union (AU), a single continental market for goods and services will be created, while free movement of business persons and investments will be encouraged. The agreement may also lead to the establishment of a continental customs union, the AU has said of the ambitious plan.

OGONE TLHAGE

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