08 Jul 2018 16:30pm
WINDHOEK, 08 JUL (NAMPA) Namibia signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement with reservations amid feelings that countries merely sign treaties for the sake of signing, with little implementation thereafter.
This was said by President Hage Geingob at the Eros Airport on Saturday just after he arrived back in the country from Nigeria and Mauritania, where he attended the 31st African Union (AU) Summit.
We signed the continental trade agreement although we have some reservations because we have the SADC Free Trade Area. We have the Tripartite Free Trade Area, are we implementing it? Geingob asked.
Another thorny issue for the Head of State is the 0.2 per cent levy on imports that Namibia has to pay to the AU as part of the AfCFTA.
If things go the AU way, Namibia, due to its classification as an upper middle-income country, will be expected to pay around U.S. dollar 4 million (about N.dollars 53.9 million) instead of U.S. dollars 2 million (approximately N.dollars 26.9 million), Geingob explained.
The president said he believes Namibias classification as an upper middle-income country is to its detriment.
We also registered how we like to push things through, like the 0.2 per cent on imports. We told them we are a small open country. We just decide things, but when you look at the details, you can see there are mistakes, he said.
He said Namibias Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not correlate with the situation on the ground.
[Due to the GDP] you get a high per capita income. Therefore, you are a rich country, nobody cares about the distribution of wealth if you are going to be assessed, he explained.
As such, the AU is reconsidering the levy Namibia has to pay for participating in the AfCFTA instead of relying on GDP, Geingob noted.
GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a countrys borders over a specific period.
Geingob reminded his follow statesmen that Namibia is one of the most unequal societies in the world, which he attributed to successive colonial regimes.
Our country was oppressed. Distribution is not even. Black people in Namibia are poor. So, dont just take this artificial mathematical formula and say we are rich and therefore charge us a lot, the former trade minister explained.
The AfCFTA covers five services priority sectors - transport, communication, financial, tourism and business.
Besides Namibia, four more countries joined the AfCFTA, including one of the biggest economies on the continent, South Africa. The other new signatories to the agreement are Burundi, Sierra Leone and Lesotho.
In total, 49 countries have now signed the AfCFTA agreement and six have ratified it. Sixteen more ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force.
If all 55 AU member countries join the treaty, it will create a bloc with a cumulative GDP of U.S. dollar 2.5 trillion and a market of 1.2 billion people.
In terms of numbers of participating countries, AfCFTA will be the worlds largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation in 1994.