Intra-regional trade affected by visa requirements
Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tarah Shaanika said that businesses are gravely concerned about the government’s decision to compel South African citizens to acquire business visas at the Namibian High Commission in Pretoria prior to travelling to Namibia for business.
This requirement was enforced in March this year and has already proven to have a significant negative impact on cross border business activities between Namibia and South Africa.
“It is unfortunate that this decision is enforced at a time when the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is making progress in deepening regional economic integration which should result in increased intra-regional trade and commercial activities,” he said.
“For the Namibian Government which has been a strong proponent of deeper regional economic integration to enforce such a decision is not only surprising but deeply disappointing,” he added.
Currently, South Africa is Namibia’s largest trading partner and the common history of the two countries has created a situation where the business bonds between the two countries are strong and wide.
“So many businesses in Namibia which play a pivotal role in this economy are subsidiaries of or having strong commercial relationships with South African companies which require representation of such companies on the boards of some Namibian companies,” Shaanika said.
“For someone to be required to apply for and acquire a visa in advance for a board meeting in Namibia that lasts for two hours is incomprehensible especially when Namibians are not treated the same by the South African Government,” he stressed.
Shaanika said that they have formally taken this issue up with the government without any interest to have it resolved on the part of the government.
“We are absolutely worried that this action will make it more costly and more unrealistic for the Namibian businesses to run smooth operations and it is definitely not helping Namibian businesses to effectively implement the Harambee Prosperity Plan which we have wholeheartedly supported,” he added.
Furthermore, Shaanika has appealed to the government to reconsider this action and remove the visa requirement for South African citizens travelling to Namibia for business purposes.