While Namibia is appreciative of the three initial draft tariff offers that are ready for implementation, government said it is concerned about the commencement of trading guided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The government says the three offers are not per the objectives of the AfCFTA, which aims to increase intra-Africa trade from the estimates of 18%. These were the remarks of Vice President Nangolo Mbumba during a virtual meeting held
over the weekend on the 13th extraordinary session of the assembly of the African Union (AU).
Although there is Covid-19 pandemic, free trading will now begin on 1 January 2021, instead of the originally scheduled date of 1 July 2020.
African Union heads of state and government have underscored the urgent need for member states to kick-start trading activities under the AfCFTA.
The decision was adopted during a virtual meeting of the AU Assembly on the AfCFTA, held on Saturday 5 December
2020, under the chairmanship Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the AU.
The summit is taking place just four weeks before the AfCFTA commences trading on the 1 of January 2021 to consider the adoption of the legal instruments that will facilitate its operation.
Mbumba gave Namibia’s position on the implementation of AfCFTA and preparedness of the country for substantive trading – come 1 January 2021. “We are, to that effect, encouraging sizeable numbers of tariff offers to be made that would inspire a considerable amount of member states, preferably 27 of the AU member states to participate
before the start of trading for the AfCFTA to be meaningful,” he said.
Namibia, therefore, suggests that the 1st January 2021, the proposed start date of trading, be approved as the reference date for tariff cuts as and when State parties submit and negotiate their tariff offers.
In July 2019, AU members met in Niamey, Niger, to launch the operationalisation of the AfCFTA Agreement after it entered into force on the 30th of May 2019 following its ratification by 25 Countries. Namibia is amongst the 33 African member states that have signed and ratified the AfCFTA with the African Union Commission.
Mbumba said although AU members are gathering against the backdrop of the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the social and economic wellbeing of the citizenry, nations press onward undeterred to implement the AfCFTA, which will ultimately aid the economic recovery of the continent.
The AfCFTA Agreement, once fully implemented, will position Africa to move away from the dependence of imports to one that creates and adds value to raw materials, and sustains meaningful jobs, particularly for our youth to spur economic development on the continent.
Therefore, Mbumba said, Namibia applauds the seven member states of SACU and CEMAC that have already
submitted their initial draft tariff offers. Equally, Namibia commended the 11 African member states that have submitted their schedules of Specific Commitment on Trade in Services with the AU.
“It is, thus, befitting at this juncture to urge those countries that have not yet ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area to do so – to enable us to have an inclusive industrialisation agenda in Africa,” he urged.
He pl edged Namibi a is committed to the full implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement and he was pleased to report that, as the country transitions from policy to actual trade, Namibia has, at the national level, made progress towards the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.
He said Namibia established all national committees and subcommittees that are needed to implement the AfCFTA Agreement at the national and regional levels. Namibia has also submitted her schedules of specific commitment on Trade in Services in the five priority sectors, namely: business, communication, financial, tourism and transport services to the African Union Commission.
Regarding the customs administration, Namibia ensured all its borders have been automated with the Asycuda custom world system. He maintained the outstanding issue is the AfCFTA tariff offers to be uploaded on the system as soon as they are finalised.