TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US to deepen partnership with Namibia

Monday, 15 July 2019 Published: | Charmaine Ngatjiheue

Source: The Namibian

The United States is working closely with Namibia to realise further growth in trade and investment between the two countries.

United States (US) ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson at a media briefing on Friday said her government is working closely to raise US companies' awareness about opportunities in Namibia which support development goals.

Johnson made these remarks in line with the US's new trade and investment opportunity programme, known as 'Prosper Africa'.

“The US administration is promoting more trade and investment between the US and more countries on the African continent. This will lead to greater shared prosperity and economic growth between both parties involved.

So, Prosper Africa is a whole new government initiative that will substantially increase two-way trade between the US and the countries of Africa,” she said.

Moreover, Johnson noted that they are also encouraging more Namibian companies to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act benefits (Agoa) for the duty-free entry of products into the US. 

The US consumer market has purchasing power of US$13 trillion, the largest in the world.

Looking at Prosper Africa, the ambassador added that the initiative would provide new resources to create economic prosperity for Namibians and Americans specifically by helping Namibian companies use the Agoa benefits.

She said this can be done by accessing the new US International Development Finance Corporation, while supporting skills development and two-way trade to increase partnerships between Namibian companies and the US.

“Namibia and the US have a strong and diverse partnership, and trade and investment is one of the very important pillars. However, the other pillars are combating HIV-AIDS; countering wildlife crime; facilitating development; and sponsoring exchange programmes. All of those pillars will continue. 

“The US model of partnership with Namibia offers sustainable, empowering avenues for economic development for Namibia. In that way, we think we are making both parties stronger, more prosperous, and all our people better off together,” Johnson noted.

Elaborating on the difference between Agoa and Prosper Africa, Johnson said Agoa focuses on exports from Namibia to the US, and countries which export to the US under AGOA, get to export their products duty free. 

The ambassador said: “Namibia has always qualified for Agoa benefits, but has underutilised them because the manufacturing sector here is underdeveloped, compared to other countries. However, we have asked an organisation here to do a study for us on why Namibia is underutilising Agoa, and what would be the most promising sectors for us to encourage more utilisation of Agoa.”

The ambassador added that the US reckons that the most promising sectors of investment are in the areas of energy, manufacturing, logistics, and tourism. 

“However, Agoa is just one-way trade from Namibia to the US, while Prosper Africa is trying to increase two-way trade to bring more investments and partnerships to Namibia,” she stated.

According to Johnson, Prosper Africa will modernise the way the US government supports its own private sector, and trade and investment opportunities in Africa. 

This will be done, firstly, by synchronising all US government capabilities by providing a one-stop-shop; and secondly, by helping to facilitate, expedite and mitigate the risks of transactions between US and African firms and investors.

Thirdly, it will support African governments in identifying and addressing policy, regulatory, and logistical barriers to private sector trade and investments with the goal of fostering a more mutually beneficial business climate.

“This is largely what the economic summit of the high-level panel here in Namibia is looking to do at the end of the month. For us, that effort in Prosper Africa will include technical assistance to implement trade and investment policies, and build the capacity of regulatory institutions and procurement bodies,” the ambassador added.

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