Oshikango leads informal cross-border trade

29 April 2016 | Business

Informal trade occurring at Namibia’s border posts has potential to boost the country’s ongoing poverty-alleviation efforts, according to a new report issued by the country’s official statistics producer.
The Namibia Statistics Agency’s (NSA) newly released ‘Informal Cross Border Trade Survey 2015 (ICBT)’ reports that the total value of such transactions amounted to N$13.4 million in 2015, or 1.7% of that achieved in the formally recognised trade market.
Informal trade refers to transactions in merchandise not captured under official statistics by Customs authorities, as their trade values fall below the N$5 000 threshold required by Customs.
The report follows a surveying exercise over the course of September at six main border posts, namely Ariamsvlei, Calai, Noordoewer, Omahenene, Oshikango and Wenela.
NSA Statistician-General Alex Shimuafeni noted that the figures showed Namibia registering a trade surplus to the tune of N$10.6 million with regard to informal trade, mainly due to significant values of goods exported via the Oshikango border post to Angola.
Total informal exports were estimated at N$12 million, while imports stood at N$1.4 million.
The latest ICBT report follows on a previous study done in 2014, and which then recorded 2% more exports at N$12.3 million.
Informal imports, the new report shows, grew by 535%, having stood at N$217 000 in 2014.
The Oshikango border post accounted for N$8.4 million in exports leaving Namibia via informal trade, which made up 38% of all informal imports.
Angola thus maintained its position as both the main export and import destination for Namibians.
The leading informal export commodity by Namibians in 2015 was said to be fish, at N$2.2 million, while the biggest chunk of the informal import bill (N$294 000) was driven by alcoholic beverages.
The NSA acknowledged a number of challenges which impeded its research, including limited resources which prevented a presence at all border posts, and difficulties in estimating the quantities of some traded items.
Another impediment was that monitoring times were only between 08:00 and 17:00, leaving informal trade occurring at night uncovered.
“It is the intention of the NSA to expand this survey by expanding the hours spent at the border posts where the surveys are to be undertaken, as well as by including more border posts,” Shimuafeni said.
The informal trade figures are not currently factored into the country’s official national statistics, the NSA confirmed.
The country’s formal exports were recorded at N$757.9 million over the corresponding period, bringing unofficial combined export earnings to N$770 million.
Overall imports (formal and informal) stood at N$2.660 billion the NSA said yesterday, with the informal sector’s contribution accounting for a mere 0.05% of this, compared to N$2.659 billion generated through formally recorded trade.

DENVER ISAACS

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