Namibia ready to seize opportunities of the Africa Free Trade Agreement
The agreement aims to eliminate import tariffs on 97% of goods traded on the continent, as well as address non-tariff barriers in the spirit of boosting Africa’s economy.
The President HE Dr. Hage Geingob recently welcomed the launch of the agreement stating that it represents a key milestone in Africa’s march towards the economic emancipation and shared prosperity for Africans.
“Namibia is ready to seize the trading opportunities,” Geingob said in a tweet.
The agreement will over time close widen intra-Africa trade by opening up a market of over 1.3 billion people and increasing direct investment in Africa.
Economist Klaus Schade told the Economist this week that, while complexities linger around the implementation of the agreement, it is important that a beginning has been made.
He said it will take a while before real impact on trade within the continent can be seen, as negotiations on competition policies, investments, etc. are still ongoing.
“Negotiations are still ongoing in particular addressing tariff schedules and Rules of Origin. Currently, trade under AfCFTA rules is based on tariff offers, but not final agreements. Even once the negotiations on tariff schedules and Rules of Origin are completed, positive impacts on trade depend on other factors such as transport infrastructure, border procedures (opening hours, documentation), border infrastructure (electricity, internet, payment systems), standards, etc. These non-tariff trade barriers need to be addressed for trade to increase,” Schade explained.
Namibia will benefit from the access to markets, Schade said, if companies have the supply capacity and complement existing product ranges.
“It is important that the government provides a supportive environment for the private sector to expand and to explore new markets. Namibian High Commissions and Embassies play an important role to facilitate contacts in their host countries and assist the private sector to get a foot in the door,” Schade said.
With the agreement finally afoot, Namibia’s exports would increase significantly towards all African sub-regions, outside of SACU, including extension of value chains to countries such as Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, offering opportunity to industrialize through regional integration and trade.