Windhoek — Namibia, including other member states who have ratified the revolutionary African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), are expected to meet specific deadlines in the realisation of the trade agreement.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said some of the expectations include that member states must submit their tariff offers for negotiations of tariff concessions. Negotiated tariff offers are expected to be submitted to the African Union (AU) Commission for approval by January 2020.
Countries have agreed that 90 percent of tariffs on trade in goods will be eliminated. Of the remaining 10 percent, seven percent may be designated as sensitive and three percent of the tariff lines can be excluded from liberalisation.
The AfCFTA entered into force on May 30, 2019 upon ratification by 24 member states. It was officially launched on July 7, 2019, at the 12th Extraordinary AU Assembly held in Niamey, Niger. The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.
Nandi-Ndiatwah said that negotiations of tariff reduction for the seven percent are to be concluded by January 2020 and negotiation results will then be deposited with the AU Commission.
She noted that trading and tariff dismantling under the AfCFTA is to commence in July 2020, and member states are expected to conclude outstanding rules of origin negotiation.
"The opportunities offered by AfCFTA are that investors in Africa will have access to a combined market of 1.2 billion people worth USD3.4 trillion. There will be an increase in intra-African trade, which is currently at a very low-level base of 13 percent of total African trade. Furthermore, it will further bring about regional value chain towards industrialised Africa in line with AU Agenda 2063," she indicated.
Equally, she stated that the prospect of AfCFTA also raises the urgent need to improve the productive and manufacturing capacity as well as competitiveness of the domestic economy to better leverage regional integration opportunities.
For African countries, including Namibia, to take advantage of the AfCFTA, she suggested that it was necessary to develop and implement a national strategy for regional integration, with strategic goals and targets.
She added it also important for members states to develop and expand national productive and manufacturing capacity to expand volume and quality of tradable.
Other recommendation she made is to leveraging regional value chains in industries such as agribusiness, transport, tourism, services among others.
Investing in relevant national infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and institutions, trade creation and cross-border trade facilitation infrastructure such as the one-stop border posts to facilitate regional integration objectives, addressing supply-side constraints and skills development to enhance national competitiveness, productivity and spearhead industrialisation objectives will become imperative.
She said the purpose is for the private sector to share information and identify bankable projects for investments and to mobile finances.
She countries like Namibia have everything it takes to eradicate poverty and bring about sustainable development and shared prosperity.
"We have resources; we have policy instruments and human capacity. The only thing we have to work on is our attitude towards Africa development. Africa is open for investment. Africa is open to those who are ready to walk with us towards the realisation of Agenda 2063," she stated.