24 April 2018

Namibia: Ministry Fast-Tracks Board to Deal With Unfair Trade

THE trade ministry is finalising the establishment of the Namibia Board of Trade, which would be the national body required under the 2002 Southern African Customs Union Agreement to better deal with issues related to unfair trade practices, tariff investigations and tariff setting.

This was said by trade minister Tjekero Tweya in his 2018/19 budget motivation speech last week in the National Assembly, in which he mentioned that the ministry set aside N$347,7 million for its activities. Tweya stressed the importance of that board, saying it is an important obligation in which work has started, and the next step should be finalising the draft bill for consideration by Cabinet and parliament.

The ministry is also working towards developing the negotiation strategy on trade in services to enable local service providers to take full advantage of market access opportunities in other member states. These projects are part of the trade ministry's external trade management activity, which was allocated N$74,7 million for the 2018/19 budget year.

"The purpose of this activity is to increase the volume, value and range of Namibian goods and services that are exported, as well as securing external markets and preferential market access conditions for local products in regional and global markets. In this regard, the ministry has devised an export development and promotion programme, and undertakes targetted promotion activities such as trade missions, fairs and exhibitions; product and market research and development; and construction of trade centres in identified targetted external markets," Tweya said.

Under this activity, the trade ministry furthermore aims to secure market access to mitigate the challenges facing Namibia in terms of the small size of its domestic market and small industrial base, with Tweya saying the ministry will continue to lead negotiations and trade missions for market access in the international market.

With regards to Namibia's adopted industrial policy and the Growth at Home strategy, the ministry will develop Namibia's trade policy in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

In terms of the trade promotion programme, N$98,2 million was allocated by the ministry, with domestic trade management receiving an allocation of N$23,5 million, and roughly N$75 million allocated for external trade management.

Domestic trade management focuses on the development and adoption of an appropriate legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the effective registration, "establishment and operation of businesses; the registration, protection and enforcement of intellectual property, standards conformity, assessment and franchises; as well as the promotion and safeguarding of consumer welfare and market competition as important conditions for a vibrant and robust domestic economy."

Tweya noted that in order to meet these needs, specialised regulatory and service agencies have been established, such as the Business and Intellectual Property Authority, the Namibia Standards Institution, the Namibia Competition Commission and the Namibia Estates Agents Board.

Under this programme, the ministry aims to continue providing financial support to state-owned enterprises executing the ministry's mandate, open regional offices, table the draft national consumer protection policy in the National Assembly during the first quarter of 2018, and introduce new inspection and market surveillance units, to mention a few.

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