WINDHOEK – The United States is on a quest for a close-knit relationship with Namibia, both politically and economically, and says it sees an opportunity to do just that by helping Namibia’s economy to diversify.
“We see a strong economic and strong political relationship as being important and as complementing one another. We want to have a close political relationship with Namibia, we want to have a strong economic relationship and we think the more trade and the more investment we have the closer our two countries will be. The citizens of both countries would see benefits in this relationship through additional trade and investment,” said Robert Hormats, the US Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment.
Hormats was in Namibia over the weekend for meetings with the Minister of Mines and Energy Isak Katali, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Hage Geingob, as well as private sector representatives, before he visited Millennium Challenge Account projects in the north.
“I came for a number of reasons [of which] one is to demonstrate the strong support in the USA for our relationship with Namibia,” Hormats said during a side interview with New Era shortly after his arrival in the country.
“We are encouraging the American private sector to play a more active role here, because we think by having close closer economic ties we can help Namibia diversify its exports, create more jobs and strengthen its economy.
We think it is very important that American companies play a constructive role in Namibia’s economic future,” he said.
In addition, the USA has “a number of suggestions on what Namibia can do, alone or with SADC, to reduce impediments to exports so that more diversification can take place.”
The visit came hours after the U.S. congress approved the Third Country Fabric Bill, which Hormats described as “very good for Namibia” at a time that the US want to strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The Third Country Fabric Bill is a provision that waives duties on clothing shipped from AGOA countries into the US, even if the yarn or fabric used is made in a third country such as China, South Korea or Vietnam.
The approved legislation extends the provision through 2015 and also makes the new country of South Sudan eligible for AGOA benefits.
The US and Namibia already work together in many areas that include bilateral assistance programmes. Hormats said the US is making “major efforts to strengthen our trade relationship, encouraging American companies to come and invest in Namibia to participate in its growth, not just in the raw materials sector, but in the manufacturing sector, the service sector, the energy sector and many other sectors as well”.
Hormats says the US is encouraging American investors to look at Namibia and take advantage of opportunities for productive investment in Namibia. “We have supported the single export window, which is an opportunity for Namibia to reduce some of the impediments for its companies that want to export and make it easier for Namibian companies that want to export. We see opportunities to help Namibia to increase its exports, we want American companies to have a chance to trade more with Namibia and invest more in Namibia,” Hormats said.