Trade Minister pleads for export diversification

Trade Minister pleads for export diversification

NAMIBIA, although slowly evolving in terms of trade, still needs to come up with other significant means of getting export earnings outside the main traditional exports of diamonds, meat and fish.

The issue was once again addresses when Minister of Trade and Industry Immanuel Ngatjizeko motivated his Ministry’s budget in the National Assembly this week. The Minister said the country’s exports stood at N$8 billion while imports were at N$11 million during the previous financial year, leaving a trade deficit of N$3 billion, which has become a cause of concern with regard to the negative balance of payments.Echoing earlier calls from different quarters, Ngatjizeko said there was a need for further diversification of trade in terms of products and trading partners.”Our imports remain dominated by consumer goods, as compared to industrial inputs.It is therefore a challenge for the Namibian entrepreneurs to ensure that this N$3 billion deficit is reduced through increased manufactured goods for consumption and export,” he said.Ngatjizeko called on the business community to sharpen its business acumen, and on the public to shake off their lack of entrepreneurial culture.He, however, added that strides were being made in expanding and testing new markets and said Namibia was now trading with East and West African countries, with the European Union remaining the major trade partner beyond Africa.Ngatjizeko also said there was “noticeable” trade with Asia, particularly Japan, China, Malaysia and South Korea.He added that Namibia was expanding into exporting products like textiles, car parts, processed precious and semi-precious stones, fruit and vegetables, beer and beverages, dairy products, copper and zinc.Ngatjizeko said the economy was facing supply-side difficulties, an absence of merchant financing agencies, and a lack of merchants to move goods and services within the domestic and international markets.Another problem he highlighted was that of local products failing to find shelf space in local shops because their procurement decisions are made by their headquarters, mostly based in South Africa.”The effect of this (discrimination against local products) is that opportunities for jobs are lost and initiatives to expand production are defeated,” he said.Ngatjizeko said his Ministry was engaging the relevant stakeholders to find solutions to all these problems that are hindering economic growth.The Ministry of Trade and Industry was allocated N$107,4 million for the 2006-2007 financial year from the National Budget, a 6,43 per cent decrease from what it received for the period 2005-2006.The Minister said the country’s exports stood at N$8 billion while imports were at N$11 million during the previous financial year, leaving a trade deficit of N$3 billion, which has become a cause of concern with regard to the negative balance of payments.Echoing earlier calls from different quarters, Ngatjizeko said there was a need for further diversification of trade in terms of products and trading partners.”Our imports remain dominated by consumer goods, as compared to industrial inputs.It is therefore a challenge for the Namibian entrepreneurs to ensure that this N$3 billion deficit is reduced through increased manufactured goods for consumption and export,” he said.Ngatjizeko called on the business community to sharpen its business acumen, and on the public to shake off their lack of entrepreneurial culture. He, however, added that strides were being made in expanding and testing new markets and said Namibia was now trading with East and West African countries, with the European Union remaining the major trade partner beyond Africa.Ngatjizeko also said there was “noticeable” trade with Asia, particularly Japan, China, Malaysia and South Korea.He added that Namibia was expanding into exporting products like textiles, car parts, processed precious and semi-precious stones, fruit and vegetables, beer and beverages, dairy products, copper and zinc.Ngatjizeko said the economy was facing supply-side difficulties, an absence of merchant financing agencies, and a lack of merchants to move goods and services within the domestic and international markets.Another problem he highlighted was that of local products failing to find shelf space in local shops because their procurement decisions are made by their headquarters, mostly based in South Africa.”The effect of this (discrimination against local products) is that opportunities for jobs are lost and initiatives to expand production are defeated,” he said.Ngatjizeko said his Ministry was engaging the relevant stakeholders to find solutions to all these problems that are hindering economic growth.The Ministry of Trade and Industry was allocated N$107,4 million for the 2006-2007 financial year from the National Budget, a 6,43 per cent decrease from what it received for the period 2005-2006.

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