British businessman turned politician, Lord Mark Ian Price, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State at the Department for International Trade flew into Windhoek on Thursday morning for a carousel of meetings with government officials, private companies and trade organisations. He departed back to South Africa the same evening.
On Thursday morning Lord Price met the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Hon Immanuel Ngatjizeko (left), the Prime Minister, the Right Hon Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila (centre left) and the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon Peya Mushelenga (right).
Later in the day, he had meetings with representatives of the Namibia Trade Forum, the Namibian Agricultural Union, Namibia Breweries Ltd, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, MeatCo, as well as the Chair of the Committee on Economics and Public Administration in the National Assembly, Hon Veikko Nekunci. He also had a brief talk with Suta Kavari, a member of the Economic Association of Namibia.
On Wednesday Lord Price met in Johannesburg with trade ministers of member states of the Southern African Customs Union. Included in this meeting was the High Commissioner of Mozambique to South Africa, Mr P Macaringue.
All countries in the Southern African Customs Union enjoy duty-free access for a stipulated number of commodities through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In anticipation of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union within the next two years, Lord Price’s whirlwind visit to southern Africa prepared the groundwork to ensure that separate trade agreements between the Southern African Customs Union and the United Kingdom are in place, once the EU SADC EPA no longer applies to Britain.
As can be seen from the trade representatives who met Lord Price in Windhoek, a significant number of Namibian companies export locally-manufactured products and agricultural commodities, duty-free, to the United Kingdom.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the ministers resolved that the transition to direct UK SACU trade agreements must be viewed as a technical exercise and not as a vehicle to renegotiate the conditions of the EU SADC EPA.