By Wezi Tjaronda
Cabinet has authorised the Ministry of Trade and Industry to establish a commercial office in Congo Brazzaville.
The office will assist Namibian companies and goods and services to penetrate the Congolese market. It will also serve the entire Central African region.
A market study into untapped businesses opportunities in Congo Brazzaville is also in the offing.
Cabinet last week gave the Ministry of Trade and Industry approval in principle to spearhead the process of trade investments with the Congo by commissioning the study, as well as to establish the office.
The Cabinet during its sitting also instructed the ministries of Trade and Industry, and Works, Transport and Communication to conclude and ratify legal instruments such as the reciprocal investment promotion and protection agreement on maritime transport and aviation and other relevant agreements relating to trade and investment in Congo.
This follows a visit of a 28-member Namibian business delegation that visited Congo last year during which a number of business opportunities were identified, including construction of houses and hotels, shopping centers and office blocks, construction materials, agricultural production, banking and insurance, tourism, electricity generation, cement and fish processing.
They also found that they could offer goods such as beer, beef and meat related products.
A statement from Cabinet said on Friday the delegation found that Congo had immense untapped business opportunities and that it needed new infrastructure. Congo’s tropical climate is favourable for the production of fruit and vegetables for local and export purposes, which is underdeveloped.
Congo President Dennis Sassou Nguesso last year invited Namibian entrepreneurs to visit his country. The delegation that visited Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in September included representatives of different sectors such as agriculture, mining, import and export, pharmaceutical products, transport, fishing, manufacturing, petroleum and gas, timber, meat products, beer and warehousing.
Congo has a population of four million, with a GDP of US$4.6 billion and a per capita income of US$1 369. The country exports cut diamonds, petroleum products, lead products, timber, cacao and sugar, while it imports chemical products, machinery, food products, iron and steel and metal products.
The trade ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will also obtain information on requirements, customs and duty charges for export of beef and related meat, dairy and other exportable products.
Cabinet also directed the trade ministry to convince Namibian businesses to participate at trade fairs in Congo or establish an annual Namibian trade fair event in Congo.