AfCFTA implementation strategy on cards

By Hilary Mare

NAMIBIA is in the process of developing a national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation strategy and action plan that will enable the country to identify key value addition and trade opportunities and the attendant constraints of optimally benefiting from the AfCFTA.

This was said by the Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu last week who further highlighted that the strategy will ascertain the measures and capacities required to take full advantage of markets within the context of the agreement.

“The strategy will provide the private sector with important entry points into the regional markets as well as alert the state to the required support to stakeholders. It is designed and implemented taking into consideration gender, youth and other vulnerable groups. Furthermore, the strategy is cognizant of other key cross-cutting issues such as the environment, climate change mitigation and the impact of technologies including ICT and e-commerce,” she said adding that her ministry is busy developing the trade in goods strategy.

The AfCFTA agreement brings together 55 countries with a combined population of 1.3 billion people in a single market worth US$2.5 trillion. It aims to significantly boost intra-African trade through harmonisation and coordination of industrialisation and trade liberalisation.

“On the home front, the benefits of the AfCFTA would be an expansion of markets on the continent, removal of barriers to trade such as reduction in import tariffs, simplification of customs procedures, harmonisation of standards and institutional certainty is enhanced through this agreement.

As a result, Namibian industries will have a larger market for their goods and services exports and a larger source market for industrial inputs and consumer goods.

“Furthermore, Namibia will benefit from greater opportunities to support industrialisation and sustainable development in the country, and enjoy opportunities for more jobs. Furthermore, the benefits would accrue to the producers, processors, exporters, importers, consumers and indeed the national economy overall. The private sector is a key stakeholder and beneficiary of the AfCFTA because businesses move goods and services and invest in-and-across borders,” Iipumbu said.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.

3 percent by eliminating tariffs. With the reduction of non-tariff barriers, intra-African trade doubles. It estimates that all African countries will experience welfare gains.

The forecast is that the AfCFTA will benefit particularly industrial and value-added exports.

“For Namibia to fully appreciate the potential benefits of joining the AfCFTA, it requires a thorough assessment of the costs and benefits and the attendant adjustment to existing trade and investment policy frameworks as well as designing other complementary industrial and other related policies. The identification of potential challenges and opportunities is imperative as it allows us as a country to craft appropriate strategic responses.

In addition, it will also allow us to ensure the existence of domestic capacity to best support the rollout and implementation of the AfCFTA,” further explained Iipumbu.