The Ministry of Industrialization and Trade (MIT) and the European Union (EU) Delegation will co-host the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Trade Forum on 31 October 2022 in Windhoek under the theme: “Towards increased and diversified trade under the EPA by ensuring inclusivity, sustainability and economic growth”. Participants will include the private sector in both Namibia and the EU with their representative organizations, policy makers and regulators, business support and financing organizations, Development Partners, media houses and Non-state Actors. This hybrid event combines engagement in person (100 participants) and a virtual component. The event will also be livestreamed on the Delegation of the European Union to Namibia Facebook Page.
The main objectives of the EPA Trade Forum is to create more awareness of the EPA and potential opportunities in the European market for the private sector in Namibia; identify how companies can benefit from the EPA and increase exports – including diversification and value-addition to products; showcasing Namibian products that have export potential through an exhibition and creating a platform for networking between Namibian companies and organizations as well as with European counterparts. The EPA Trade Forum also serves as a precursor to the EU-Namibia Business Forum planned for mid- 2023.
The one-day Programme include, amongst others, a Panel discussion about the current state of play of the EPA and perspectives, with participation of officials from the SADC-EPA Implementation Unit in Botswana. Parallel sessions will be conducted on the Agro Industry and emerging exports as well as a session on Trade facilitation and logistics. Expertise on topics such as Rules of Origin, cumulation and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures will be roped in to assist in to respond to questions on these topics. Furthermore, MIT and the EU will launch the EPA Implementation Plan at this Forum. The EPA holds potential for significant market access improvements into the EU for Namibian business operators, but achieving this potential is contingent on overcoming non-tariff barriers in the form of regulatory
requirements and administrative procedures. Supply-side constraints of Namibian producers need to be addressed so that they are competitive enough to produce for and enter the EU market. This requires a well-developed and executed EPA Implementation Plan that considers these challenges and aims to maximize the benefits for both importers and exporters in Namibia, as well as the EU.
In order to support the Economic Partnership Agreement Implementation in Namibia, the EU provided € 6 Million to strengthen government capacity to manage international agreements, with specific focus on the EPA. This includes creating more awareness of private operators on potential benefits of the agreement, as well as supporting the quality and scope of public service delivery in areas of Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues, Technical Barriers to Trade and quality control and certification. This programme furthermore supports public-private dialogue and engagement with the business community, of which includes the EPA Trade Forum.
“Namibia’s economic outlook after the Covid-19 pandemic is brighter; therefore we believe the time is opportune to fully utilize the EPA as a lever to accelerate trade, economic growth and more jobs.” said Sinikka Antila, EU Ambassador to Namibia. Minister of Industrialization and Trade Lucia Iipumbu added: “We should double efforts to develop the Small and Medium Enterprise sector, connect them to overseas buyers, markets and global chains, expertise as well as the financial sector to maximize opportunities offered under the EPA”1
1 The EU-SADC EPA was signed on June 10, 2016, between the EU and six members of the SADC (Namibia, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa). The EPA grants the contracting parties a series of benefits. These include, among others, duty-free quota-free (DFQF) access to the EU market. SADC EPA states do not have to respond with the same level of market opening. Instead, they can keep tariffs on products sensitive to international competition. Namibia and the EU are important trading partners and Namibia’s trade balance has been consistently positive. EU trade in goods with Namibia for 2021 for example amounted to some € 1,022,520,000.00 that Namibia exported to Europe and imports from the EU to Namibia amounted to about €613,125,000.00. The three most important Namibian export products to the EU in 2021 included hake, copper and diamonds, whilst the most important Namibian imports from the EU were ores, slags, ash, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances.