- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/Does the space for industrialisation exist for Namibia?

Does the space for industrialisation exist for Namibia?

Does the space for industrialisation exist for Namibia?
Windhoek skyline, capital of Namibia
Published date:
Tuesday, 06 September 2011

In 2004 Namibia adopted Vision 2030 as its roadmap for the industrialisation of our country.

The Vision envisages that Namibia shall be developed by her own human resources. We are in the seventh year in the implementation. Yet, we do not, as a nation, have a concrete roadmap for industrialisation. At the same time the global trading system is fast changing.

The rules of the WTO; the emerging patterns of international trade, for example, the rise of global value chains and marketing networks of multi-nationals; and bilateral and regional trade agreements all are impacting on trade rules. These patterns of international trade are narrowing the industrialisation policy space of the industrially lagging countries such as Namibia.

It is imperative therefore that Namibia should chart a roadmap for industrialisation within the framework of Vision 2030, before it is too late.

The lessons from EPA negotiations are instructive in this regard. The EPA negotiations are stalled on key industrial policy issues such as food security; free circulation of goods and services; prohibition of quantitative restrictions; infant industry protection; export duties; and the Most Favoured Nation treatment.

Removal of barriers to trade between SADC and EU shall lead to unrestricted food imports from Europe. European agriculture is highly subsidised. This situation will create unfair competition. Local agricultural production shall be negatively affected.

Similarly, free circulation of European imports within SADC will mean that duties won’t be levied on European imports once such imports have entered any of the SADC members. SACU revenue will be negatively affected by such an undertaking. Removal of infant industry protection regime, on the other hand, will relegate the industry lagging countries within the SADC family to perpetual producers of raw materials.

In addition, removal of export duties will mean that a country like Namibia will not have a policy option to encourage value addition to locally produced raw materials.

All these examples demonstrate that the industrially lagging countries are running out of policy options. If EPAs were going to be signed in the present form even the South-South Cooperation Arrangements will be compromised by the Most Favoured Nation treatment.

The AGOA experience

Despite its shortcomings, African Growth and Opportunity Act or AGOA provided trade preferences for quota- and duty-free entry of goods from Sub-Saharan Africa into the US market. Namibia, despite its dubious honour of being an upper-middle-income country, qualified for AGOA treatment.

This was an opportunity for Namibia to benefit from the “flying geese pattern” of industrial development. The flying geese pattern of industrial development happens when industrialised countries lower trade barriers for industrial goods from the industrial lagging countries. This is how South East Asia moved from simple manufacturing to today’s industrial complexes.

Although Namibia initially benefited from AGOA it missed an opportunity of benefiting from the flying geese pattern of industrial development. This happened because Namibia did not have a strategy of how to benefit from AGOA. It is imperative therefore that Namibia must develop an industrialisation policy.

Toward a national industrialisation policy

A National Industrialisation Policy starts with the identification of the national competitive advantages. Which sectors of our economy show great potential for manufacturing? Currently few companies have established niches in manufacturing. These include Namibia Breweries; Namibia Mills, Namibia Diaries, Ohorongo Cement; some meat and fish producers.

There is a need, however, for a conscious effort to identify more industrial clusters which should be promoted and marketed. I believe there is still a great potential in meat and fish processing; minerals beneficiation; tourism development; and marketing of Namibia as service centre with modern ICT, the road transportation system and harbour services.

Secondly, there is a need to identify agents which are steering economic and technological transformation. This means that strategic collaboration between Government and the private sector on the basis of Public Private Partnership is imperative.

Thirdly, enterprise development is another area which must be explored. The Government, in its capacity as a developmental State should take the lead in assisting the private sector to kick-start enterprise development. In particular Government should establish a national innovation system and venture capital in order to enhance technology leveraging and new innovations.

Fourthly, it is important for Namibia to establish a national trading company which is tasked to promote Namibian manufactured products and the development of global marketing networks. This is important in mitigating the impact of corporate strategies and goals on the patterns of trade flows.

In a nutshell: though neo-liberalism is discouraging the development of industrialisation policies in the industrial lagging countries, these countries cannot afford not to have one while there is still a window of opportunity in industrialisation policy space.

Irfan ul Haque in a piece titled “Rethink Industrial Policy” (2007) correctly observed: “Although developing countries’ room for manoeuvre in policy making is now greatly circumscribed, the existing tariffs on manufactures continue to provide developing countries with some degree of protection from outside competition.”

Namibia should heed this advice if Vision 2030 is going to be a reality.



Read related news articles

New opportunities to deepen US trade and investment in Namibia open up

New optimism about the future of Namibia’s economic engagement with the United States of America has begun to manifest. The American Ambassador to Namibia, Ambassador Randy Berry, recently said that the United States of America is committed to strengthening trade and investment ties with Namibia and other African countries. Ambassador Berry stressed the importance of these partnerships for mutual prosperity and the significance of...

23 November 2023

USAID and Namibian government showcase successes in Namibia

Today, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States to Namibia Jessica Long and representatives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the Namibian Government, reflected on the past six years of the Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID TradeHub).  The event in Windhoek brought together stakeholders from the Namibian market to share experiences, successes, and lessons...

03 August 2022

Namibia: Trade ministry and USAID TradeHub bring AGOA capacity building into focus

Last year, Namibia launched its AGOA Utilisation Strategy with the objective of diversifying and increasing its exports to the United States of America under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The strategy chiefly seeks to assist Namibia to develop its competitiveness in utilising the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that provides eligible countries with duty free access to the lucrative USA market.  Now, Namibia...

06 June 2022

Namibia: Ambassador keen to expand country's Meatco market

Namibian ambassador to the USA Margaret Mensah-Williams recently conducted a familiarisation visit at Meatco, expressing her satisfaction at the manner the institution is operating and fulfilling its mandate.   Mensah-Williams, who was welcomed by Meatco CEO Mwilima Mushokabanji, was particularly impressed by the vast experience and knowledge Meatco has in producing high-quality beef products that are highly competitive in the advanced...

20 January 2022

Namibia: American delegation looks for renewable energy opportunities

President Hage Geingob on Friday hosted a delegation from the United States of America at State House. A delegation of businesspeople, accompanied by lawmakers from several states, was in Namibia to look out for opportunities, particularly in the renewable energy industry. Before the closed-door meeting, Geingob said Namibia is a peaceful country that has gone through peaceful transitions of power. He informed the delegation that Namibia has...

24 August 2021

Namibia: Local exporters urged to take continental market route as companies shine at exporter awards

Minister of Industrialisation and Trade Lucia Iipumbu said a number of export markets have been secured for Namibian exporters, including in Africa, and encouraged all local producers to seize opportunities of continental access.  Iipumbu made these remarks when she officiated at the first Namibia Annual Exporter Awards last week. The awards were held in collaboration between the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID...

09 August 2021

Namibia launches AGOA strategy to increase tariff-free exports to the United States

Today, U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson joined Minister of Industrialisation and Trade Lucia Iipumbu to officially launch Namibia’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Utilization Strategy. The strategy seeks to increase Namibia’s exports under the AGOA program, which allows Namibia to export over 6,400 products tariff-free to the United States. This joint effort to develop the AGOA strategy is part of the United States’ efforts to...

11 May 2021

Namibia: Meatco hailed for beef export success … ‘nothing good comes easy’

Minister of International Relations and Corporation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday hailed the exportation of Namibian beef to the United States, describing it as a “great achievement” in the advancement of the country economic diplomacy.  Nandi-Ndaitwah made the remarks during the sending off of the first container of 25 tons of Namibian beef to the US, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city yesterday, making Namibia the first...

21 February 2020

USAID Southern Africa to support upcoming Swakopmund international trade expo

The USAID/Southern Africa will collaborate with the government and the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) for the upcoming 7th Swakopmund International Trade Expo (SWAITEX). Dr Takele Tassew, Agriculture and Trade Advisor for the USAID/Southern Africa Regional Economic Growth Office, confirmed in a statement that this partnership is possible because of a meeting they had with the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME...

03 October 2019

US to deepen partnership with Namibia

The United States is working closely with Namibia to realise further growth in trade and investment between the two countries. United States (US) ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson at a media briefing on Friday said her government is working closely to raise US companies' awareness about opportunities in Namibia which support development goals. Johnson made these remarks in line with the US's new trade and investment opportunity programme,...

15 July 2019

Namibia encouraged to make more use of AGOA

THE United States of America's ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson has encouraged Namibian businesses to make use of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The African Growth and Opportunity Act (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...

06 July 2018

You are here: Home/News/Article/Does the space for industrialisation exist for Namibia?