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Local businesses stumble over Angola visas

New Era, Windhoek

Local Businesses Stumble over Angola Visas

2 June 2005

Surihe Gaomas

THE issue of trade visas, transfer pricing of goods and the long outstanding issue of the Bilateral Investment Agreement between Namibia and Angola are some of the challenges facing businesses in the country.

These were but just some of the concerns raised at the second networking meeting for business members of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) on Tuesday this week.

By the year 2008 the Southern African region is set to become a free trade area. However, some local businesses are worried about the frequent incidents of dumping of goods in the country.

"There is now an unfair race of price transferring and dumping of goods from other countries and this is affecting small businesses," said senior consultant of Weder Daiber Serer, Douglas Reissner.

Due to these unfair practices sentiments were that low prices from South Africa are killing local businesses, creating a very problematic situation for small and medium enterprises to remain competitive.

Addressing the business representatives chief executive officer of the NCCI Taara Shaanika said that he is currently negotiating on trade agreements between SADC and the EU, SACU and the United States, as well as with India and China. He urged the members to place more input in this initiative, while at the same time being aware of the threats that may arise from them.

"As much as free duties to trade are there between China and Namibia or with Brazil and the EU, we should be aware of the potential threats of such agreements on the business sector. We are scared of Chinese textiles in Namibia. While at the same time it may bring opportunities, there could be threats," for local businesses, said Shaanika. On the issue of visas for trade ventures between Namibia and Angola, most businesses are seeking the abolishment of such visas, as it also hampers the progress of trade.

"We have received already three complaints from local businesses about not being able to do business in Angola because of the problem of visas," said Shaanika, adding that the Angolan counterparts are also fighting for the abolishment of the regulation.

However, this would only be possible once the two governments of Namibia and Angola agree on ratifying the Bilateral Investment Agreement.

Despite the long delay there is commitment from both governments to ratify this convention, hopefully before the end of this year, paving the way for the smooth flow of business and trade activity between the two neighbouring countries.

With all these concerns raised, the NCCI plans to incorporate them in its Strategic Plan which is expected to be finalised by June 24.

At the same time, SMEs especially those in the regions called for more business training of their members either through the media or the soon to be updated NCCI website.

The second networking meeting with its business members this week was aimed at the NCCI familiarizing itself with its members on how the chamber can assist in strengthening its activities countrywide. Close to 30 business representatives attended the meeting.