14 January 2016

Namibia: Govt, Tanzania Struggle to Bolster Trade

Namibia's newly appointed high commissioner to Tanzania, Theresia Samaria on Tuesday made a courtesy call on Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to seek advice on what she should focus on during her time in Tanzania.

Namibia and Tanzania have longstanding political ties dating back to the days of Namibia's fight for independence, but the two countries are struggling to emulate that feat when it comes to identifying areas of cooperation to bolster trade.

Little has come from the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation (JPCC)'s agreements between the two countries since its establishment in 1999. The JPCC is based on a bilateral agreement signed between Namibia and Tanzania, which provides a platform for the two countries to cooperate in a number of areas including agriculture, trade and industry, tourism, health, education, human resource development, sports and culture among others.

Samaria, who was appointed last month, said her focus would be on facilitating trade between the two countries and fostering cooperation between schools and the youth of both countries, amongst others.

"They [Tanzanians] were of much help when we did not have anything, so there is room to build on those historical links, which in my view should benefit both countries. We will have to look for areas of common interest, but of course I can only talk about that once I am there," said Samaria who was unaccompanied during her meeting with the PM.

PM Kuugongelwa-Amadhila pledged her office's support to the new high commissioner, saying she has the required experience to run the mission.

Samaria, who replaces former high commissioner Japheth Isaack, will be accredited to several states in the Great Lakes region. She noted that she must still meet with the deputy prime minister - who happens to also be the international relations minister - to find out how many countries she will be accredited to.

Samaria previously served as mayor of Walvis Bay and later as Namibia's high commissioner and ambassador to Botswana and Sweden respectively.

Although she made no mention of it, High Commissioner Samaria will quite likely be expected to pay special attention to the existing agreements between the two countries to enhance cooperation.

When President Hage Geingob paid an official two-day State visit to Tanzania in October last year, where he held discussions with his then Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the two expressed concern over the fact that 17 years after its implementation the JPCC is yet to yield positive results.

The two leaders encouraged the JPCC to meet as soon as possible to identify and pursue priority areas of cooperation that would yield quick and visible results in terms of faster economic growth and social development for the mutual benefit of the two countries and their people.

Kikwete, who has since left office, at the time re-assured President Geingob that Tanzania's policy towards Namibia would remain unchanged.

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