U.S. Assistant Secretary of State visits Namibia to strengthen bilateral relations

Niël Terblanché

Moly Phee, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, paid a courtesy call on President Hage Geingob at State House earlier this week, as part of her four-day visit to Namibia.

The primary aim of her visit is to bolster and deepen the already strong relations between Namibia and the United States.

During their meeting, Phee expressed her appreciation to President Geingob for his exceptional leadership, significant contributions to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and his vital role within the African Union in addressing governance challenges across the continent.

She also commended the President for his remarkable efforts in the fields of conservation and energy.

Phee’s visit comes in the wake of an announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who emphasized the Biden administration’s desire to collaborate with Congress to improve the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA, launched in 2000, grants exports from qualifying African countries duty-free access to the United States, the world’s largest consumer market.

Discussions regarding AGOA’s third reauthorization, set to expire in September 2025, are currently underway.

African countries are advocating for an early ten-year extension without changes to provide stability for businesses and investors.

African governments are also pushing for more flexibility in eligibility criteria and a less frequent review of those criteria.

However, there are differing opinions on the need for updates to the program.

We don’t just want to extend AGOA, we want to work with the United States Congress to make it even better,” Blinken said.

Over US$10 billion worth of African exports entered the United States duty-free last year under AGOA, but the U.S. International Trade Commission pointed out significant shortcomings, including the fact that over 80 percent of non-petroleum AGOA exports came from just five countries in recent years.

The Biden administration recently announced its intention to exclude Gabon, Niger, Uganda, and the Central African Republic from AGOA participation due to governance and rights concerns.

Moly Phee’s visit emphasizes the significance of Namibia’s role in Africa and its relationship with the United States, as both nations work towards enhancing economic and diplomatic ties.

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