Namibia Must Tread Carefully On EPAs

Prime Minister Hage Geingob, has warned that Namibia needs to tread carefully when dealing with the European Union (EU) on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Speaking in Brussels, Belgium during a briefing session with members of his delegation drawn from various government ministries and agencies, as well as from the business sector, Geingob said the negotiations are at a critical stage, which warrants careful consideration.

The PM said Namibia’s classification as a middle-income country had placed the country in a tough negotiating position, as such classification places it at shoulder level with some of the world’s wealthy countries.

“We are at a critical stage with negotiations on the EPAs, therefore we need to be cautious in our approach. We already have a problem with our classification as a ‘rich’ country, based on mathematics formulae that make no sense. They take the number of people in the country and divide that by the percentage of income per capita and then declare that Namibia is a rich country. That is wrong,” he argued.

Geingob said other African countries like Angola and Nigeria, which boast more natural wealth than Namibia, are classified as ‘poor’ countries, which raises questions on the rating standards applied during such classifications.

The Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein, who is also in Belgium, will lead Namibia’s negotiations on the EPAs on the sidelines of the European Union-Africa Summit starting today.

Namibia has ruled out signing an EPA with the EU if the trade deal does not promote its ambitions to industrialise and integrate its economy with that of its regional neighbours.

Namibia wants an economic partnership with the EU which will result in growth of the country’s manufacturing industry, while at the same time affording Namibian products equal access into the EU market.

EPAs between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions are aimed at promoting trade between the two groupings, and through trade development, sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

These agreements are set out to help ACP countries integrate into the world economy, and benefit from the opportunities stemming from globalisation.

Source : The Namibian