Russia seeks enhanced local trade

In a bid to strengthen and increase trade volumes, a high-level Russian delegation will meet with their Namibia counterparts in Windhoek this week.

13 November 2017 | Business

Russia has always been clear in its desire for stronger trade with Namibia but this appears not to have been realised to its full potential. - Embassy of the Russian Federation

Staff reporter - The seventh session for the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation between Namibia and Russia will take place in Windhoek on Wednesday and Thursday.

Established in 2006 and officially opened by the then Russian minister of natural resources, Yuri Trutnev, the commission’s mandate is to establish stronger trade relations between the two countries, the Embassy of the Russian Federation said in a statement.

Trutnev, now Russia’s deputy prime minister, will again lead the delegation and is appointed as co-chair of the committee.

Historically, Russia and Namibia have shared good relations which stem as far back as the liberation struggle. To date, these relations continue and are reflected in the appointment of Trutnev, a very high-level government official, to the committee, the statement said.

“Russia has always been clear in its desire for stronger trade with Namibia but this appears not to have been realised to its full potential. In May of this year, trade between Namibia and Russia was described as ‘unimpressive’ by Trutnev during an official visit to Namibia,” the embassy said.

In 2016, trade between Namibia and Russia amounted to US$24 million.

‘Much to offer’

“Russia has much to offer Namibia in terms of trade and other exchanges. Much like South Africa with the sanctions during the apartheid years, Russia too had to find her own solutions while the iron curtain was still in existence. Russia’s expertise in engineering and medical research is recognised as world-class and the country just recently rolled out the first test vaccine against the Ebola virus in Guinea,” according to the statement.

The country has a vast and vibrant manufacturing sector and while its main exports are oil, gas, coal and petroleum products, its machine-building industry is the third largest export sector, second only to agriculture.

Russian railway equipment, parts and components are high in demand across the world as are its appliances. The country’s leading manufacturer in this regard, RM Rail, was able to specially manufacture, for Cuban conditions, sugar hoppers, covered cars and platforms for that country’s rail industry. Mill machinery, vending machines, telemetry and remote quality control systems are highly valued in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Poland.

Agricultural giant

In 2016, 120.7 million tonnes of grains were harvested of which more than half was wheat. This year, estimates are that more than 700 000 tonnes of sugar will be exported. The country is able to almost meet its internal demand for sugar beet having harvested five million tonnes last year.

There is vast support from the government for the agricultural sector and the State’s Agricultural Products Export Project, created to ensure international certification of quality, ensure certification at global standards, of agricultural products in Russia.

During the upcoming session in Windhoek, several meetings in various sectors will be held and meetings will take place with the leadership of AgriBusDev. Here they will be introduced to specialist Russian fertiliser known to provide exceptional results in difficult, dry climates.

Manufacturing

The country also manufactures a wide range of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.

Axion, a Russian manufacturer, is aggressive in terms of marketing its products, including products for cardiology, neonatology, resuscitation, surgery and physiotherapy for exports. All products are ISO 9001-2001 certified. Again, with major government support into this industry, new products and innovations are continuously being developed.

“Specialist equipment has saved the lives of more than 3.5 million children in the past 20 years and at a recent unveiling of these machines to foreign audiences, interest was expressed from both representatives in the EU as well as several Asian and African countries,” according to the embassy.

The country has a large metalworking industry, providing both single parts and billets, rolled non-ferrous items and even complete pieces such as railroad or highway bridges. EVRAZ Metallurgical Holdings drives exports in this regard with markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa and pockets in Europe, India and the Middle East.

The Rostech Corporation, another metal parts manufacturing firm in Russia, ships titanium forgings to both Boeing and Airbus.

Russia’s metalwork products are shipped to far and wide. The Commonwealth of Independent States receives 35% of all exported goods, 25% goes to Eastern Europe, 14% to Western Europe, while the Middle East receives 10% and North Africa, 9%.

Interestingly, Russian timber products are exported worldwide where wood is a scarce resource. It is one of the few countries in the world where the number of new trees is higher than the number harvested for timber products.

Geingob

During May, when Trutnev met with President Hage Geingob in Windhoek, he said that although the 2016 trade volume halved compared to the 2015 figures, the two countries are doing well in other areas of cooperation.

“Russia has increased its quota for Namibian students and in the military technical field as well as tourism, good progress has been made. It would be beneficial to expand this trade to other fields including energy, agriculture and mining.”

Geingob welcomed an expansion in both trade and cooperation with Russia, and invited investors from that country to invest in the local uranium industry, saying Namibia has nuclear energy potential.

“Government will be willing to facilitate. We will be willing to see how we can also benefit from that. The doors are open. We have of the highest uranium resources in the world. We need someone who needs this resource, adds value to it and can use it,” the statement quoted Geingob.

Namibia’s dependency on imported energy and the excessively high costs associated with importing the electricity have recently been highlighted in the local media. Russia, as a world leader in nuclear energy would be keen to invest into Namibia in this regard, the embassy said.

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