31 Oct 2013 22:29pm
WINDHOEK, 31 OCT (NAMPA) - The president of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has urged local business people to take advantage of Chinese investments and form strong partnerships with Chinese partners with a view to pursue business opportunities in Namibia.
Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun was speaking at a business forum between Namibian businesspeople and a business delegation from China's Ningbo City in the capital on Wednesday.
The visiting delegation, comprising over 20 business leaders, is on a three-day visit to Namibia to explore business opportunities with Namibian businesses.
Namundjebo-Tilahun said over the past decade, China and Namibia have developed close economic relations with trade increasing at a high pace, while increased trade and investment links are particularly promising as they have the potential to support Namibia's growth ambitions and sustain economic gains.
We must build partnerships which will culminate in increased production capacity, improve infrastructure and the chance to turn resource endowment into development strength and achieve independent and sustainable development, said the top NCCI official.
She emphasised Namibians eagerness to work with their Chinese partners to explore and exploit the mineral wealth of Namibia, and ensure that this benefits the economy and people of Namibia.
The NCCI president further called on Namibian and Chinese businesses to work hard and ensure that Namibia achieves a more diversified range of exports to China.
The current trade balance, according to Namundjebo-Tilahun, is in favour of China, with Namibia exporting primarily primary products.
She stressed the need for Namibia to export more Namibian products to the Chinese market, which could include beef, lamb, fish, seal products and grapes.
Namundjebo-Tilahun further said as Namibia bears witness to the rapid growth of the tourism sector in the country, there is a need to start aggressive promotion aimed at attracting Chinese tourists.
She said the Chinese market represents the third-largest travel market worldwide, and more Chinese tourists are going beyond south-east Asia to spend vacations in Africa, and Namibia should take advantage of this.
Tourists should be seen as exports, as their spending spreads rapidly through the economy, stimulating it across all sectors, said Namundjebo-Tilahun.
She added that large flows of inbound tourism will inherently contribute to local economic development, create jobs in a number of industries, increase overall wealth, facilitate greater social and cultural awareness and ultimately promote further investment.
On his part, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Namibia, Runing Liu said China has become one of the main trade partners of Namibia with bilateral trade volumes which increased from N.dollars 1,58 billion in 2007 to N.dollars 6,1 billion in 2012.
Quoting Chinese statistics, he said that by the end of 2012, the amount of direct investment from China to Namibia was US dollars 194 million.
There are currently 36 Chinese state-owned companies doing business in Namibia in the fields of construction, mining, engineering projects, information technology (IT) and financial services amongst others, with about 900 Chinese staff and 4 000 local Namibian workers.
Runing noted that China will expand direct investment in Namibia in agriculture, marine aquaculture, new energy and manufacturing industries in the future.