Nam-India trade can be enhanced
… as Indian delegation arrives for investments hunt
• BY HILARY MARE
INDIA’S High Commissioner to Namibia, Prashant Agrawal has said that the trade between Namibia and India can be enhanced to its actual potential and India stands ready to work together with its Namibian counterpart in areas inclusive of pharmaceuticals, agriculture, diamond polishing, solar energy, technical education, value addition and manufacturing.
Trade between Namibia and India was close to N$135 million in the previous year with exports to India at N$53 million while imports were approximately N$82 million.
In an exclusive interview this week, Agrawal also noted that a 20-member Indian business delegation was in the country to hunt for investment opportunities which was a showing of Indian commitment to enhance Namibian trade and business relations.
“Namibia is open for business and in a sense we have organised this visit to first show that we are serious about building strong trade and business relations and secondly, with the realisation that following the implications of Covid-19 on the economy, it was imperative to understand that the only way towards prosperity is working hard urgently,” he said.
The business delegation is undertaking several business to business engagements with interest in key industries particularly manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and value addition.
At least 17 Namibia companies were to meet the delegation when Confidente interviewed the High Commissioner earlier this week.
“The delegation will also have meetings with the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, the Manufacturing Association of Namibia and many others. Our objective is to make them aware of what is on the ground and the possibilities that are there to explore from a business point of view. We will thus facilitate their meetings.”
The business delegation will be in Namibia for a week, Agrawal said further highlighting that he is hopeful that the delegation can connect with likeminded business people to partner into viable projects that will aid Namibia’s developmental agenda.
“They (the visiting delegation) are open minded and will explore areas in which they feel have value. There are definitely a lot of areas where we need to collaborate. For example, India has one of the biggest diamond cutting and polishing industries and Namibia can benefit from this expertise. Already we have three Indian companies in that industry here in Namibia and they have been training and building capacity for unskilled Namibians,” extended Agrawal.
India’s current exports to Namibia includes pharmaceutical products, cereals and preparation of cereals, sugar and sugar confectionery, meat and eatables, glass and glassware plastics, manufacturer of metals, machine tools and transport equipment among others.
On the other hand, Namibia exports precious and semi-precious stones, iron and steel, zinc, non-ferrous metals, electrical machinery and equipment.
India is among the top six trading partners for Namibia and remains as an important strategic partner both as a market and as well as a source of Foreign Direct Investment.
In the past Indian companies have invested in Namibia including Vedanta, Indian GPT Group of Companies (in Joint venture with Trans-Namib) and other companies in areas of energy, agriculture, irrigation, healthcare, diamond cutting and polishing as well as in retail. Gabriel Sinimbo, High Commissioner of Namibia to India who accompanied the delegation this week said that while missions exist to nurture diplomatic relations one of the emerging key role is to enhance economic diplomacy which relates to boosting trade and also attracting investments.
“This visit by the delegation is to try and achieve that as we seek to help grow our GDP. Trade with India is below its potential and this is a territory worth exploring given its potential. There are major industries that are targeted and we hope that the goals of the visit are realised.
He went on to highlight that under the economic pillar of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, there is a responsibility to source for investment which equally falls on foreign missions.
“This is why President Hage Geingob has travelled around the world marketing the country and seeking for investors. This is what we have been doing in India and we are hoping that we are able to soon bring business delegations on a more regular basis,” Sinimbo said further highlighting that his office is also seized with the responsibility to look for shelf life for Namibian products in India.
“We have been doing this and we look to enhance this going forward,” he said.
Head of the delegation and Commissioner of the India Namibia Trade Council, Dr P Radnakrishnan who also spoke to Confidente this week said:
“Our meetings have been very good and we have seen significant progress with a lot of support from both the Indian High Commission in Namibia and the Namibian High Commissioner to India. We are hoping that we are able to sign some MoUs as well as some deals from engagements that we will have. The India-Namibia Trade Forum as well as the India-Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry will continue to collaborate with support from both the high commissions,” he said.