By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
Namibia, under the configuration of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is yet to finalise her tariff offer for the Africa preferential trade arrangement.
Ministry of industrialisation and trade, Lucia Iipumbu, made a presentation at a discussion hosted by the UNDP in November last year on the progress Namibia has made with regard the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Namibia, being a member of SACU, is bound by Article 31 of the 2002 SACU agreement to negotiate any preferential trade arrangement as a collective.
Other SACU members include Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Eswatini. The five member states maintain a common external tariff, share customs revenues, and coordinate policies and decision-making on a wide range of trade issues
Currently, SACU offers stand at 89.8% and has a deficit of 17 tariff lines ( 0.2) percentage to reach the required threshold of 90%.
“Namibia will not be able to trade under the AfCFTA preferential trade arrangement until such a time that the SACU offer is finalised”, minister Iipumbu revealed.
So far, the country has submitted 41 tariff offers (goods) and 47 services offers, which encompasses five priority sectors of financial, telecommunication, transport, tourism and business services.
Trading under the AfCFTA officially launched on 1 January 2021, however, practically nothing much happened due to matters such as Rules of Origin and countries who did not submit their Tariff Concessions.
Currently, 43 countries have ratified the AfCFTA, whilst 46 of the 55 countries have submitted tariff offers to the AfCFTA secretariat, representing 85% of the African Union membership. Additionally, 29 of the tariff offers received have been technically verified and certified as having met the minimum threshold.
In SACU, all other member states, with the exception of Botswana, have ratified the AfCFTA and work is ongoing to review the SACU initial offer of 5988 tariff lines, which represents 75% of the SACU tariff book, to comply with the adopted AfCFTA modalities.
The of industrialisation and trade has highlighted that effective implementation requires domestication at national level in terms of customs infrastructures and tools such as trading documents, implementation strategy and action plan.
Namibia has developed the Implementation Strategy and Action Plan to guide and drive the implementation of the agreement which was launched on 21 November 2022.
The implementation of the AfCFTA is projected to open up new markets, offering additional access to a larger market for Namibia exporters of goods and services which currently depends heavily on European demands.
The business community stands to benefit from the launch of the national strategy which is a product of extensive consultations with stakeholders, Charity Mwiya, chief executive officer for the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“The effective implementation of the strategy will require all partners and the private sector to pool resources together and critically analyse how women, youth, and grassroots organisations can be in the forefront,” Mwiya said.
The country has also established the AfCFTA National Implementation Committee to oversee the activities comprised of representatives from ministries and agencies (OMAs), academia, private sector, civil society, youth and women organisations.
The overarching objective behind the AfCFTA is the elimination or reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers amongst the 55 Countries. The agreement is aimed at integrating Africa’s markets by creating a single continental market for goods and services, and promoting cross-border movement of capital and persons, which are crucial for deepening economic integration.
The AfCFTA will also provide an opportunity for the continent to enhance its productive capacity and to build robust regional value chains to effectively supply the African market, with 1.3 billion consumers and a combined GDP of around $3.4 trillion. It further creates an opportunity to modernise and streamline customs processes, procedures and requirements for import and export in the continent.