WALVIS BAY — The Namibian and Zimbabwean governments are meeting in Walvis Bay to discuss matters of trade between the two Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) member states.
Ministers of trade from both countries are present alongside business delegations from the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) are holding talks on how best to bolster the trade agreements that exist between the two countries.
Representatives attending the meetings are from the manufacturing, construction, food and retail sectors as well as a representative from the Namibia Manufacturers Association.
The visit creates an ideal environment for the exploration of opportunities and business-to-business exchanges between the two business communities.
Zimbabwe and Namibia signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in 1992 that provides for the exclusion of customs duty for goods with 25% local content.
However, trade between the two countries is still very limited in contrast to the cordial relations the two governments have, which is also reflective of intra-regional trade in the rest of the Sadc region.
Sadc trade is still heavily skewed in favour of developed economies despite a push for regional countries to trade amongst themselves.
South Africa, being the economic powerhouse, derives major trade benefits from the countries in the hinterland – despite a push by Sadc principals to encourage trade beyond South Africa.
Meanwhile, the upcoming meeting of the Zimbabwe-Namibia Joint Permanent Commission will also see delegates thrash out issues around improving bilateral economic relations between the two.
During the fifth session of the Zimbabwe-Namibia Joint Permanent Commission, the two countries signed three agreements aimed at strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties between them.
The agreements signed included the Bilateral Air Services Agreement, a revised Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and a memorandum of mnderstanding on Forestry Management.
The fifth session also aimed at improving the reciprocal 1992 PTA.
The revised trade agreement included Namibia’s offer to Zimbabwe of dry port facilities at Walvis Bay.
The ZNCC has of late been exploring how local businesses can utilise Namibia’s deep-water port of Walvis Bay as a trade corridor.
Latest statistics from the Walvis Bay Corridor Group indicate that Zimbabwe’s trade volumes through the port of Walvis Bay have grown significantly to 2 500 tonnes per month.
Walvis Bay harbour has become a significant entry gate for goods destined to Zimbabwe, mostly notable imports of vehicles from as far as Dubai, as well as textiles.
Signalling the importance of the Walvis Bay harbour to Harare, Zimbabwe used the harbour to import an unknown quantity of US currency.
Trade Minister Hage Geingob, was expected to address the meeting yesterday during the late afternoon session.