11 Aug 2016 16:10pm
By Maggy Thomas
WINDHOEK, 11 AUG (NAMPA) Parliament has ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and Namibia will thus not be affected by the deadline of 01 October set by the European Union (EU) for ratification.
The agreement was endorsed during the last Parliament session some two weeks ago.
In an interview with Nampa on Thursday, Namibia's Ambassador to the EU, Kaire Mbuende said Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah signed the instrument of ratification on Wednesday and it is now only a question of seeing to it that it is delivered.
This means Namibia has complied and will not be affected by the 01 October 2016 deadline, he said.
This year, the EU published regulations that will deny preferred market access to that region for countries that do not deposit the instrument of ratification by 01 October this year.
Namibia signed the EU - Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in Kasane, Botswana in June this year, joining a group of four other countries from the regional bloc in favour of opening their own and gaining access to the EU.
There is now an open market where we can export everything we produce. This open market will immediately result in millions of dollars for Namibia through trade and export, said Mbuende.
He challenged Namibian businesses to make use of the open market by exporting Namibian products to Europe.
The challenge will always be the question of quality, but as long as we can produce good quality products, we will be able to access the EU market, he emphasised.
Namibia has so far not had any problems with quality and met EU export standards, said Mbuende, adding that there are a lot of countries that have had products sent back because of non-compliance with quality requirements.
What the country has to do now is to increase the quantity of products exported, he noted.
Namibia became a signatory to the agreement alongside South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Botswana, a move seen as a great achievement in the trade agenda and economic relations between the EU, African Union (AU), SADC and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states.
The agreement ensures that the SADC EPA group will provide duty-free and quota-free market access for Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique.
The EPAs for duty and quota free market access to the EU market with the various countries were negotiated for more than 10 years.
EU exports will also have access to the markets of ACP states, but it will be introduced at a gradual pace to protect infant industries in these states.
This differs from the previous agreement regime where Namibian products were confined to quantitative restrictions, with only certain amounts of each type of product allowed to enter Europe.