By Petronella Sibeene
Namibia and Cuba have strong bonds of political friendship, but the two governments have expressed concern over lack of effort to improve the low level of trade and investment between the two countries.
The Minister of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Marta Lomas Morales yesterday said the two countries have made significant strides in consolidating bilateral relations.
They have done this through the signing of various agreements in areas such as education, but one area that still calls for attention remains trade.
Morales said the two countries should seriously discuss and identify products that can become part of trade between the nations.
She said Cuba could, for example, export pharmaceutical products including vaccines for children.
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Abraham Iyambo suggested Namibia could export horse mackerel, beef and marble to Cuba.
Namibia could in turn import sugar, HIV/Aids drugs, and Cuban branded drinks such as Havana Club, and aspirin.
“It is an irony that for a country that is close to us, there has been no economic cooperation or activities initiated, ” Iyambo said.
The minister said that four years ago, the trade volumes between the two countries stood at only 0.4 percent.
The Cuban minister cited the long distance and high costs of transportation as among the reasons why trade has not flourished between Namibia and Cuba.
She invited Iyambo to Cuba early next year to further discuss how the two countries could promote trade in the fishing, agriculture, and construction sectors.
The two ministers spoke during the 9th Joint Commission for Economic, Scientific, Technical, and Trade Cooperation between Namibia and Cuba.
During the Joint Commission meeting that started Tuesday and ended yesterday, the two countries reviewed progress made in implementing the agreement signed in 1991 on the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Namibia and Cuba identified 16 areas of cooperation in different sectors.
These included health, education, agriculture, trade, mines, gender, labour, and lands and resettlement.
Namibia stands ready to cooperate with Cuba in all fields of human development in order to promote the economic growth necessary for social development.
Already, Namibia benefits from the Cuban support in a number of areas, particularly in the field of education.
According to Morales, 1ǟ