5 February 2013

Namibia: Big Year Ahead for Trade

NO Namibian producer should continue to struggle to sell their products in Namibia, Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein said yesterday, highlighting producers' plight as one of the focus areas of his Ministry this year.

Speaking at the official opening of the Ministry's management retreat, Schlettwein said the retail sector will be consulted and a charter of good practice developed. In addition, "whatever constraints" that may be to get Namibian products on the shelves of big retailers locally, will be removed, he said.

"We need to ensure that more Namibian products are able to enter our domestic market which, as we know, is dominated by imported goods and international procurement and distribution systems," Schlettwein said.

Namibia also needs to increase its industrial capacity to use its own resources and add value to create new economic benefits and employment, Schlettwein said.

"We will need all policy measures available to us to support our industries to establish and find a place in the market," he said, adding that Namibia "will use measures such as infant industry protection, investment incentives, export taxes on raw materials and other forms of support required to ensure that we can establish new industries and that they will have access to the raw materials we produce".

Schlettwein said there is need to encourage investment, both foreign and domestic, in order to help transfer skills and technology to Namibia and develop products and services for the domestic market, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and the rest of the world.

"It will be essential to focus investment on our priority economic areas and enable joint ventures and partnerships with Namibians to ensure that investments have a broader development impact. We will thus propose changes to the legal framework for investment in the coming year," he said.

In order to make a success of the daunting challenge of industrialisation, the Ministry needs to embark on a range of institutional reforms.

These reforms include the establishment of the Namibia Board of Trade to advance tariff regimes in the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) which would encourage industrialisation, and the overseeing of the implementation of infant industry protection and anti-dumping measures.

Schlettwein said it also needs to establish a new industrial development agency in Namibia to support all industrial programmes and spearhead new initiatives and processes which will include the realignment and transformation of inter alia the Namibia Development Corporation and the Offshore Development Company. He added that there is also a need to establish a new Business and Intellectual Property Authority entity responsible for business and intellectual property registration as part of efforts to improve the ease of doing business in Namibia.

"We need to restructure the Ministry of Trade and Industry to enable us to execute these important programmes and growing agenda effectively," he said.


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