Trade Forum dialogue on services and manufacturing
Putting manufacturing and the liberalisation of trade in services under the spotlight, the Namibia Trade Forum this week hosted one of its quarterly Private Public dialogue sessions in Windhoek. Some 90 representatives comprising government officials and, from the private sector, distributors, manufacturers, logistics companies, and regulators, attended.
The Namibia Trade Forum is an agency of the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development. Its main objective is to institutionalise Public/Private dialogue and cooperation with emphasis on international and domestic trade.
At the Trade Services consultation, industry experts focused on the key concerns under the topic: Liberalising of Trade in Services: Where does Namibia Stand? This included updates on the SADC trade services negotiations and Namibia’s current position.
One of the three strategic intervention areas in the Growth at Home roadmap is to secure market access at home and abroad. Market access abroad are secured through international trade agreements such as the SADC Trade Protocol which gives Namibian products preference in the SADC region, the EPA agreement which gives Namibian beef and grapes duty free, quota free market preference in the European Union and the SACU agreement which is supposed to lead to duty-free trade between Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Drawing attention to the SADC TiS Protocol, the seminar discussed the interplay between regional integration, economic growth and development. Looking at the current status of the trade negotiations, the SADC members drafted the Trade in Services agreement which has been signed by twelve SADC members but not by Namibia, Angola and South Africa.
In the meantime, the deadline for ratification has been shifted to December 2016.
Speaking at the session, JB Cronje, a researcher at the respected Trade Law Centre of Southern Africa shared his views on Trade in Services in the 21st Century. He explained the key aspects namely Services and Global Value Chains, Services and the Digital Economy and Implications for Trade Governance.
The session for the Manufacturing Sector focused on Namibia’s Procurement Act and its implementation. Manufacturing has become Namibia’s hope to achieve and maintain a sustained economy. In-line with this ,the Procurement Act aims to “harmonise procurement policies, systems and practices that apply to public entities and maximise economy and efficiency in public procurement to obtain best value for public expenditures; as well as looking at empowerment and industrialisation policies of the government. It also looks at “sourcing of goods manufactured, mined, extracted or grown in Namibia and local services and labour, including local entrepreneurial development; and preferential treatment in the allocation of procurement”.
Keynote speaker, Ono-Robby Nangolo, the procurement legal expert of the Ministry of Finance gave a holistic overview of the Public Procurement Act. He extended the link of the act to other national policies such as NDP4 and the Growth at Home strategy . In context with the work of the Namibia Trade forum ( NTF) he highlight how the act will benefit the Namibian Retail Charter.
In the manufacturing sector, the Retail Charter can be seen as a transformational tool. The forum’s CEO Ndiitha Nghipondoka-Robiati, provided a summary of the Retail Charter in the context of implementation and the current situation. “Many Namibian manufacturers who follow government reforms are aware of the government’s intention to transform the retail sector in a way which could be more conducive for Namibian manufacturers, particularly with regards to sourcing and listing Namibian manufactured products in leading retailers. This is where the Retail Charter comes in” she said.
By definition, the Retail Charter is a national reform which aims to transform the retail sector by addressing challenges experienced by Namibian manufacturers. The content of Namibian products stocked by retailers and the number of Namibian manufacturers having supply contracts with retailers increased significantly and the supply capacities of local manufacturers improved following better retail shelf access.
The Retail Charter was officially launched earlier this year on 11 March.