International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said it is vital that Namibia and Tanzania prioritise the speed of pending agreements in various fields which have been identified, as this will strengthen and deepen cooperation between the two states.
Nandi-Ndaitwah was speaking at the third session of the Namibia-Tanzania Joint Commission on Cooperation (JCC), which was held from 8-10 March 2023 in Windhoek.
“From the second JCC, we agree that not much had happened since that meeting. And now we have committed ourselves to make sure that more will be done now after this meeting, and that’s why we have put in place monitoring and follow-up mechanisms,” she stated.
Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Tanzania’s minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, said her country noted the slow implementation on some of the issues which were agreed upon during the second session. She added that for these sessions to be meaningful to the countries’ relations, there is a need to take the decisions made seriously and tackle the implementation of all agreed issues, as well as to remove the bureaucracy that hinders reaching the targeted milestones.
“The implementation of these agreements will for sure contribute to the socio-economic development of our two countries, and enhance the living standards of our people. It is, therefore, very important that we commit ourselves to the implementation so as to meet the intended objectives. Let us speed up the implementation, with the need to redouble our efforts to ensure the timely implementation of our great decisions in order to strengthen the historical bonds, increased trade links and the broader socio-economic, political and diplomatic collaboration between our two countries for mutual benefit,” said Tax.
The commission witnessed the signing of various legal instruments, being the Agreement on political and diplomatic consultations; Agreement on cooperation on security matters; and Agreement in the field of energy resources.
Touching on their energy resources’ agreement, Nandi-Ndaitwah said energy is one of the enablers which is required by both countries if the two are to seriously take and achieve objectives in other sectors, such as agriculture and mining.
She added that it is important to make use of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into force in January 2021, to increase trade between the two countries.
AfCFTA aims to reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade.
“It is an instrument we can use to intensify trade and investment collaboration between our two countries. In pursuance of the common objective, I would like to see Namibian entrepreneurs investing in Tanzania, and those from Tanzania invest in Namibia,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
According to a World Bank report, the AfCFTA agreement is expected to create the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.
Additionally, Tax said the essence of cooperation compels Namibia and Tanzania not only to tackle challenges that face the two countries and peoples, but also to continuously explore and create opportunities for growth.
“We express concern about the slow flow of trade between our two countries, and agree to continue promoting trade and investment as we cooperate, noting that investment, trade and business are among the critical ingredients for cooperation. There is a need, therefore, to harmonise and improve the business and trading environment for investment and trade to thrive, including by removing non-tariff barriers,” she stressed.
The main objective of cooperation, Tax said, is to add value to socio-economic endeavours, and to jointly address emerging peace and security threats.
There are about 18 agreements that are still pending finalisation. The next and fourth JCC is expected to take place in Tanzania in 2025.
As per the joint communiqué read out last week, the commission expressed concern about the security situation in the region, the killing of innocent people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the instability being perpetrated through terrorist attacks in the northern Province of Cabo Delgado in the Republic of Mozambique, as well as the emerging political and security situation in the Kingdom of eSwatini.
It further called for the lifting of the embargo and sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, reaffirmed its solidarity with the people of Western Sahara, and reiterated its call for the implementation of AU Decisions and UN Resolutions on the holding of the referendum.