Namibia has endorsed a N$38 210 428,75 (€2,6 million) trade-related facility to strengthen the process of regional integration with the Southern African Development Community, in addition to enhancing trade with the European Union.
The trade-related facility (TRF) was established through an agreement between the European Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and signed in 2014.
The trade ministry's permanent secretary, Gabriel Sinimbo, said the project has two windows. Firstly, it is the SADC protocol window, which seeks compliance and the implementation of commitments under SADC member states, and secondly the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) aimed at the facilitation of the effective implementation and monitoring of the SADC-EU EPA with the view to enhance potential benefits.
Speaking at the launch last Thursday, Sinimbo said the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade, and SME Development submitted a proposal for funding for €2,6 million in 2016, which was approved.
"In terms of the two windows, there are specific activities, and the first window deals with the member states under the protocol on trade (STP), which received an allocation of €1,4 million (N$20 574 846,25) for the assessment of the implementation of industrial upgrading, the implementation of the national single window, as well as a few other activities.
"The second window is for the activities earmarked under the EPA, with an allocation of €1,2 million (N$17 635 582,50)," he stated.
EU ambassador to Namibia, Jana Hybaskova, said the EU looks forward to working with Namibia on the project.
She observed that the road to signing the SADC-EPA was not easy as there were some hiccups and misunderstandings, but the EU, in partnership with the Namibian parliament, managed to ratify the agreement in 2016.
"We were ready to start implementation then. You might recall that we were hurrying this EPA ratification in 2016 to export Namibian grapes to the EU market duty- and quota-free, and we managed," she said.
Hybaskova noted that Namibia is expected to prepare on a governmental level about a strategy for the EPA's implementation plan. The EU is around to assist Namibia in implementing the EPA, she added.
"Getting to EPA implementation is through the technical cooperation facility, which is the responsibility of the National Planning Commission. However, today we are speaking of the TRF, which is brought to Namibia through the SADC secretariat. But we have two types of instruments, and I am very optimistic that we can use them properly, and merge them for the benefit of Namibian exporters," Hybaskova said.
Trade minister Tjekero Tweya said during the EPA negotiations, European ministers never made themselves available to negotiate with SADC ministers because the Europeans might have deemed themselves superior, and thus sent only senior civil officials to negotiate the EPA on their behalf.
He said he was not happy with the treatment Namibia and SADC were given during the EPA negotiations, but it changed after Namibia aired its complaints.
The parties are now busy with the implementation of the EPA, and the Europeans should not during the implementation tell Namibians how to do it.
"I am sure we know why we engaged ourselves in this relationship. We are sending our prime beef to Europe, leaving the junk in our country, irrespective of our health. We send our prime fish, our prime grapes, we welcome water from Portugal, from Sweden, from everywhere else. But our water does not enter that market, unless it changed over the past five years.
"I am yet to be convinced otherwise. During this implementation, I remind you as new servants from the EU not to take us back as though we are negotiating because those have been finalised," he stressed.