Cabinet gives green light to National Trade Policy

Martin Endjala

The Cabinet has approved the Draft National Trade Policy, which aims to contribute towards Namibia’s economic diversification by promoting and stimulating a competitive trade sector to increase the export of goods and services.

The decision has been described as a step in the right direction.

According to the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade Chief Information Officer Elijah Mukubonda, the National Trade Policy commits to the improvement of an enabling business environment for domestic trade and investment, particularly the promotion of local and regional development as a centre of trade and investment.

Thereby creating opportunities for equal participation through entrepreneurial development; nurturing the private sector to compete locally and globally, and giving close attention to the informal sector and economically disadvantaged groups in society.

Hence the move by the Cabinet to approve the policy is a headway in the process that the Ministry undertook in developing the National Policy on the Informal Economy, Startups and General Entrepreneurship.

The policy focuses on both trade in goods and services. The latter, including digital trade, Mukubonda said, has become the most dynamic part of global trade, an essential input into the production of goods and services.

As well as an avenue for export diversification; and a significant contributor to inclusive growth, job creation and poverty alleviation.

Mukubonda stressed that the development of services trade policies is vital in exploring new sources of efficiency improvements across all sectors of the economy.

“The National Trade Policy recognises that the smallness of Namibia’s domestic market, high levels of income inequality and unemployment impose limitations for trade policy, especially as relating to import-substitution trade strategies.

There is strong evidence to suggest that an export-orientation strategy within the context of establishing a better balance between imports and exports while encouraging domestic demand is an appropriate policy orientation. Hence, the national trade policy prioritises the diversification of domestic economic activity, exports and markets,” said Mukubonda.

He stated that the policy further seeks to improve policy coherence across all Offices, Ministries, and Agencies dealing with the strategic intervention areas to create synergies towards industrialisation export and investment promotion for sustainable trade development.

Adding that Coherence is also recognised in terms of cross-cutting issues related to gender, youth, environment, labour, intellectual property, technology transfer and innovation as well as the advancement of digital transformation, including e-commerce.

Furthermore, it lays a framework for guiding Namibia’s participation in international trade; maximising the benefits from regional and global markets, and minimising the costs of openness to trade through deliberate strategic interventions and utilisation of feasible policy instruments and measures on trade in goods and services.

“The National Trade Policy is a dynamic and flexible document, which will be subjected to a review after five years, to take into account emerging national priorities and developments in regional and global markets.

Subsequently, the policy recognises that the fundamental challenge to trade performance in Namibia is, grounded in structural constraints to growth as a result of a narrow industrial base driven by extraction and limited processing of natural resources rather than by high value-added and diversified productive capacities.

This requires more domestic and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to spur productive diversification into new economic activities, including the required levels of skills, and expertise,” explained Mukubonda.

He further added that Namibia should further build the capabilities of government agencies to support effective implementation and management of strategic initiatives in the prioritised industrial and trade-related areas, including public-private dialogue and partnerships.

“The National Trade Policy is developed to guide Namibia’s trade relations with the rest of the world and formulated within the scope of Vision 2030, the country’s policy framework for long-term national development, aspiring to take Namibia into a developed country status,” he alluded.

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