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Namibian fishing industry urged to diversify
Namibian fishing industry urged to diversify

Namibian fishing industry urged to diversify

SERVICES NEWS - Jul 5th, 08:49

Walvis Bay - Namibia should not allow itself to be held hostage by any single market, says the Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein. 

"We cannot be held hostage by a single market," Schlettwein told Namibia's fishing industry in May as he urged stakeholders to diversify their markets and not to depend solely on one or two export markets as the industry has done to its detriment in the past.

Speaking to representatives of the fishing industry and the fish processing sector in Walvis Bay, during a strategic consultative meeting with stakeholders, Schlettwein noted that although progress is being made on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with the European Union, Namibia is facing a unilateral deadline of October 01, 2014 on current market access arrangements and said the country "needs to be prepared also for the worst".

The minister, who is at the forefront of the EPA negotiations, also noted that the EU has taken a tough stance to trade themselves out of the economic trouble they are in while Namibia, and Africa as a whole, must trade itself out of poverty. "If we give in to EU trade demands we will become a de facto colony, once again following the orders of our EU masters. Industrialisation is accepted as our solution to lift our people out of poverty," he said.

Accompanied by the permanent and deputy permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Trade and Industry during the consultative process, Schlettwein also expressed concern over securing supplies for the domestic market. "We have a tendency to export the best, often all of the best, and leave inferior products for the domestic market. Sometimes we even have to import products for the domestic market because of exports.

“I think this also applies to fish products from what I have seen in the retail market. This is not a healthy situation and I ask all of you to make arrangements to provide predictable supplies of the full range of fisheries products for the domestic market," he said.

In addition, while other sectors such as logistics, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture have been given prominence in the 4th National Development Plan (NDP4), Schlettwein commented that few would argue that the country's fisheries sector would not continue to be very important as a source of employment and an earner of foreign exchange through exports.

"Just as we recognised agricultural production and agro-processing as key pillars in Namibia’s industrial policy, we would also like to consider fisheries and fish processing in the same way," he said. Another concern raised by Schlettwein was the need for optimising value chains. "If we export value addition we also export jobs that come with the creation of a value chain. I must highlight my concern about value addition outside the domestic economy rather than inside.

“This goes hand in hand with the problem of transfer pricing. I want us to interrogate this issue again and build a common understanding of what can be done, and what support is needed from the government," he told the fishing sector players.

The stakeholders’ meeting, which took place at a Walvis Bay hotel, included discussions on the current structure, capacity and constraints for expansion and increased value addition, opportunities for further fish processing, new product and market diversification, and required actions and interventions.


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