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Namibian Businesses Advised To Take Advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area

By: Hertha Ekandjo

The industrialisation and trade deputy minister, Verna Sinimbo, says it is important for Namibian business communities to prepare and take full advantage of the benefits offered under the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA) agreement.

“This entails increasing production capacities, diversification and adding value to our raw materials as well as to ensure that our produce is finding its place of exports on the African continent,” she said.

Sinimbo said this during the awareness campaign of the AFCFTA on Thursday at the Safari Hotel, Windhoek.

According to her, AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-African trade, enhance regional and continental value chains by establishing viable and competitive industries in the continent.

She further said this could culminate in innovation, employment opportunities and wealth creation for the citizenry of the African people, especially women and youth.

“Namibia, within the framework of Southern African Customs Union (SACU), is currently finalising her tariff offer to the AfCFTA, and thereafter, Namibia will soon launch her National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy and Action Plan,” Sinimbo noted.

Moreover, she mentioned that it was necessary to note that the Pan African payment and settlement system has been developed to ensure that trade under the AfCFTA would be made through the African currencies.

The deputy minister clarified that this meant that Namibian exporters, including informal traders, will now be able to settle their imports using the local currency and receive payments in the local currency when exporting goods and services within the continent.

“This will make trade easier and reduces trading costs to the minimal. Namibian exporters will have access to trade information such as applicable tariffs, schedules of specific commitments on trade in services, online,” she expressed.

Furthermore, Sinimbo said this would instantly inform traders on the duty that a specific product attracts in all the African countries and the laws and regulations applicable to services sectors, thus enhancing predictability.

The start of trading under the AfCFTA was officially launched in January 2021, which provides traders with a perfect opportunity to better understand what the African Continental Free Trade Area was all about and the benefits it offered.

Sinimbo stated that the ministry, in collaboration with the Namibia Trade Forum, would continue to provide necessary information series and ensure that traders were well equipped and ready to trade under the AfCFTA.

“We also have to ensure that women traders, youth and informal traders are aware of the agreement through all public/private sector dialogue platforms available,” emphasised Sinimbo.

Namibia negotiated, signed and ratified the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. The AfCFTA agreement was signed in March 2018 during the 18th Extraordinary Session of the assembly of African Unions heads of state and governments in Kigali, Rwanda. Subsequently, the agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is a free trade area encompassing most of Africa. It was established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which has 43 parties and another 11 signatories, making it the largest free-trade area by the number of member states after the World Trade Organisation and the largest in population and geographic size, spanning 1.3 billion people across the world’s second-largest continent.

Hertha Ekandjo

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