News that both the Namibian Government and the European Union (EU) have initialled the vital Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with adjusted terms are welcome for manufactures, exporters and producers of local products and signal a major diplomatic win for the country.
Namibia has been refusing to initial the EPA agreement with the EU in a bid to protect her infant industry from being bulldozed by subsidised European products such as milk which would have flooded the market if the agreement was signed in its original form.
Since the days of Dr Hage Geingob as the Minister of Trade and Industry to date when Calle Schletwein is at the helm, Namibia has shocked many by refusing to budge into the big brother mentality imposed by the EU in the business world. The EU wanted Namibia to sign the EPA agreement in its original format which had detrimental effects of killing our fragile dairy products manufacturing, meat processing and eventually open up the relatively small market to European goods.
EPA in its original form would have resulted in the Namibian market being sacrificed to ruthless competition from heavily subsidised EU products, however this is not to say locally produced goods are not already being literally squeezed out of the market by South African products.
Minister Schlettwein broke the news of a new EPA deal in parliament last week and what a sigh of relief it was.
Not only is the EU a lucrative, irresistible and vital market for Namibia’s agriculture, horticulture and mining products but it does not have to come with a price that kills our own initiatives of the Growth at Home Policy (GHP). The growth at home policy driven by the Ministry of Trade and Industry is targeted at growing local industry especially manufacturing and subsequently create jobs.
So commendable is the fact that after Namibia stood her ground to have her concerns taken care of in the new EPA form, EU has seen the light and agree that they cannot do without us.
The agreement between Namibia and the EU is a major step towards cementing preferential trade agreements. It also stands out as a vivid reminder to the Western world that we now have a New World Order (NWO) where agreements are mutual not one sided.
We live in a world where business terms ought to be achieved on both parties unlike the laws of the jungle in the past when EU used to be the godfather of all decision making engagements.
More importantly the revised EPA agreed to by Namibia can be used as a yardstick to those countries that were bullied into signing earlier (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland) that EU needs Africa more than we need them and they should come and do business with us in a manner that is beneficial to us.
Namibia’s firm decision to have EPA clauses on protection of infant industry protection adjusted to the benefit of the country should also be considered as a way of unifying all Africa nations whenever making a decision. Perhaps if all those that were in a rush to sign took Namibia’s stance it would have been a victory for Africa not Namibia alone.