Namibia to sign SADC Protocol on Trade in Services after ‘internal consultation’
Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, has rubbished reports as “factually incorrect” by some local media houses who have accused Namibia of refusing to sign the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Trade and, or the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services at the recent SADC Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
“Namibia has signed and ratified the SADC Trade Protocol, which establishes the SADC wide free trade area. Namibia was in fact one of the founder signatories of this protocol and remains a strong proponent of strengthening inter-SADC and inter-Africa trade. Namibia is the second strongest SADC country in respect of inter-SADC and inter-Africa trade following South Africa,” explained Schlettwein in parliament last week.
Regarding the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services, which was adopted in 2012, Schlettwein clarified that Namibia will only consider committing to it once the country has comprehensive information available and only when it has concluded its internal consultation with stakeholders in all the identified service sectors.
This protocol is comprised of the protocol itself and a number of annexes which will contain the details as to which sector and to which level different service sectors would be liberated. The sectors that were identified as priority service sectors to be liberated are financial services, energy, construction, communication and tourism, some of which are regulated in Namibia.
“Most of these annexes are still under consideration and SADC member states are negotiating the offers to be made. At the time when the protocol was adopted Namibia indicated that it needed more time to consider the protocol together with its annexes so as to have the whole picture before committing to it,” explained Schlettwein.
During the recent SADC summit in Zimbabwe the master of ceremonies of the closing session, in line with SADC tradition, placed before Heads of State and Governments all adopted protocols that had not yet been signed. Namibia indicated that she was not yet ready to sign the Protocol on Trade in Services.