We must change gears, Iipumbu says

For the AfCFTA to work best, countries must work on low-hanging fruits such as improving border posts where trucks are often delayed for weeks, economist Mike Schüssler says.

06 December 2021 | Local News

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

Namibia must revisit its priority economic areas - given the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic - to build a more resilient economy going forwards, says trade minister Lucia Iipumbu.

Speaking at High Economic Intelligence, Covid Economy and Environmental Sustainability conference last week, the minister emphasised that a key issue is value addition to ensure Namibia gets optimal returns from its raw materials and investments.

“There is a need to increase local value addition to our raw materials for self-reliance and export. It would be important to consider renewing the ongoing partnerships and solicit new partnerships that can assist Namibia to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Namibia has negotiated a wider and comprehensive market opportunity through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This is a good opportunity for Namibian manufacturing companies to venture into other lucrative African markets to gain the much-needed earnings in the country and enhance economic growth,” she said.

According to her, improved industrial development through the AfCFTA can be ensured with increased participation in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, which will - in turn - increase the national gross domestic product from processing imported raw materials within the region.

Uncertainties

“Trade liberalisation is expected to improve economic activities with the AfCFTA in terms of trade and investment. Currently, all negotiations on tariff concessions are moving at snail’s pace due to the pandemic, as countries are more focused on saving lives and preserving livelihoods.

“This creates uncertainties for developing economies like Namibia as tariffs form a huge percentage of their revenue. Such uncertainties cannot be negotiated at a pace required to foster trade liberalisation as the pandemic has paused all forms of contact and collaborations,” Iipumbu said.

Acclaimed South African economist Mike Schüssler said for the AfCFTA to work best, countries must work on low-hanging fruits such as improving border posts where trucks are often delayed for weeks.

“We see now an improved situation between South Africa and Zimbabwe, where the border post is privatised although they are asking a very steep price. People are still paying and they going through within two hours.

“To make this work, we have to start with the practical things such as lower tariffs for goods and products and to make sure the border posts works,” he said.

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