Namibians in America urged to utilise duty-free trade

29 Sep 2015 13:10pm

By Maggy Thomas NEW YORK, 29 SEP (NAMPA) -

President Hage Geingob's Constitutional Advisor, Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi has called on Namibians living in the United States of America (USA) to utilise the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and import Namibian products into the USA market.

"There are a lot of opportunities in the business sector which you can make use of to contribute to economic growth in the country," Zaamwani-Kamwi said while speaking to the Namibian community living in New York at gathering on Sunday.

Zaamwani-Kamwi is part of the Namibian delegation to the 70th Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA70), which opened at the UN Headquarters on Tuesday.

The delegation is led by President Hage Geingob. Zaamwani-Kamwi encouraged Namibians in the diaspora to make use of the recently re-authorised AGOA to bring Namibian products to the US market.

"This will be one way of contributing to the development of the country," she said.

AGOA, also known as the Trade and Development Act of 2000, was approved by the United States Congress in May 2000. It promotes duty-free market access to the US to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the US and the region.

Earlier this year, the Namibian Government welcomed the re-authorisation of the AGOA for another decade. The current version of AGOA is due to expire on 30 September 2015.

In Namibia, AGOA's benefits have not been fully utilised due to a number of challenges, in particular the closure of the Ramatex garment and textile factory in 2005, which left 600 people unemployed.

Ramatex turned cotton into textile to export it to the US under AGOA. Zaamwani-Kamwi also told the gathering that Namibia has a serious skills deficit.

She urged the Namibians living in the USA who have skills that are required for economic growth and development and have the intention of returning to the country, to submit their data to the Namibian Embassy in Washington.

"Whenever opportunities arise, you can search on the website of the government for those advertisements and apply," she said.

She also encouraged them to form partnerships with Americans who wish to invest in Namibia by introducing them to the Namibian economy.

Namibia's exports to the US in 2010 were valued at N.dollars 1.9 billion and N.dollars 2.9 billion in 2011; while in 2012 it decreased to N.dollars 1,6 billion.

The year 2013 recorded export volumes to the US of N.dollars 2 billion. Imports from the US to Namibia were valued at N.dollars 495 million in 2010; N.dollars 457 million in 2011; and N.dollars 378 million in 2012. In 2013, imports went up to N.dollars 1,3 billion.

Namibian exports to the US mainly comprise uranium ore and concentrate; non-industrial diamond; as well as refined copper and fish products. None of these products are eligible under AGOA. Namibia's imports from the US include machinery, transportation equipment, chemicals and chemical products.