SACU prepares for launch of regional preferred trader scheme

handshakeThe Southern African Customs Union (SACU) consisting of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland collaborates with the World Customs Organization (WCO) in a trade facilitation initiative funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The initiative in which also the SACU Secretariat participates, aims among others at developing a regional Preferred Trader (PT) scheme.

From 30th of September to 4th of October a core team consisting of National Project Managers, audit experts, PT-experts and site managers met in Windhoek, Namibia, with WCO experts to further prepare for the launch of the PT-scheme by developing regional processes to be applied related to the benefits selected and designed for the SACU regional PT.

The selected pilot operators have been engaged, and in the near future also the relevant cross border regulatory agencies and Customs officials at the selected border posts will be sensitized on the regional PT-scheme.

During the intense working week, all participants actively contributed to the preparations for the launch of the PT-scheme, planned for the first half of 2014. Source: www.4-traders.com

Namibia – Dry Port for Keetmashoop

Namibia Map (www.fao.org)

Namibia Map (www.fao.org)

Namibia – Plans by Governor of the Karas Region, Bernardus Swartbooi, to establish a dry port facility at Keetmanshoop have been hailed as a “brilliant idea” by experts who are in unison that the idea is overdue. (Maybe it is just plain common sense! Will be interesting to see how the Namibian Revenue Authority facilitate the inland movement of transit containers from Walvis Bay.)

Swartbooi presented his proposal to change the face of Keetmanshoop by making it the pivot of trade between Namibia, South Africa and possibly the rest of Africa at the Annual Logistic and Transport Workshop last week.

According to him the new venture, estimated at roughly N$10million, will see Keetmanshoop linked directly by sea, rail and road with Namibia’s capital Windhoek, Africa’s largest economy, South Africa, and the rest of the Southern African Development Community in the form of a central north-south transport corridor.

Keetmanshoop is the only town in Namibia with eight border posts and has a working relationship with the North Cape Province in South Africa.

Swartbooi said the second phase of this development will stream into the creation of a free trade zone on the eastern side of Keetmanshoop that will not only attract foreign investors but create a wealth of jobs that will significantly reduce the country’s unemployment statistics.

He also mentioned that with a free trade zone the region can eventually venture into light manufacturing that will bring about positive spin-offs for the region and the entire Namibia as a whole.

“We fight against a trend that the south was left out.. If you close down the Walvis Bay port today we will feel it later, but if Lüderitz port is to be closed today the effect will be felt within hours. There is no argument about our strategic location. No-one can compete against our land availability,” he enthused.

Twenty hectares of serviced land have so far been secured for the project that will include two weighbridges, offload facilities and accommodation facilities for truck drivers and recreation.

“We are looking at enhancing road safety and to cut down on driver fatigue,” he explained adding that key stakeholders have not yet been identified and anchor participants are being sought.. “We are looking at a private public equity where we can give someone a lease of ninety years,” he stated.

According to the Director for the Namibia German Centre for Logistics, Neville Mbai, Keetmanshoop as a regional hub is a brilliant idea and will not only serve as a buffer during labour strikes in South Afica, but will surely ease the burden on Walvis Bay port and corridors.

“It is absolutely brilliant. Kharas is adjacent to the great Gauteng region, the breadbasket of Southern Africa if not the whole of Africa. What we want to see is a shorter road from Johannesburg to Namibia. Look at the road infrastructure of Walvis Bay, if we are to add more that road will be in trouble,” he said adding that with Keetmanshoop providing a hub Namibia will no longer be severely impacted by labour strikes in South Africa, as goods can be stored to cater for the Namibian market.

“The idea must be to have a concentration of logistics hubs scattered across the country and with the port of Lüderitz and the quantity of fish production the region certainly is deserving of a hub,” he noted.

At least 1 600 trucks pass through Keetmanshoop on a monthly basis with 80 percent of Namibia’s goods being are transported through this route.

Operations Manager for Logistics Support Services Quintin Simon argues that this is indeed a positive idea and with Keetmanshoop located in the centre, distribution will become easier and faster. Source: www.newera.com

When a Beer is definitely not a Beer!

beerThe Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has been blamed for disobeying the decree issued by Kinondoni District Court, which prohibits import and distribution of Windhoek Premium Lager Beer in the country, which does not bear code number MB66.

It is alleged further that the TRA, in total disobedience of the decree in question issued on October 15, 2010, has been allowing and collecting tax from dishonest businessmen and companies who import the beer brand that does not bear the said code number.

A consultant with Mabibo Beer Wine and Spirit Limited told the ‘Sunday News’ that his company was shocked after learning that a certain TRA officer said the Authority does not recognize the decree that was issued by the Kinondoni District Court.

A TRA officer recently informed the police authorities who are investigating Mabibo’s complaints against Land Mark Hotel for disobeying a lawful court order that TRA does not recognise the decree that prohibits any person from importing or selling Windhoek Premium Lager.

According to the court order – failure or refusal by the defendant, its owners, agents, directors, servants and other unknown persons who are directly or indirectly related to the defendant or any other persons, to comply with the prohibition orders shall amount to contempt of the orders of the court.

TRA has been accused of allowing Land Mark Hotel to import Windhoek Premium Lager Beer in violation of the court decree and was only concerned with the collection of taxes and that the Authority was not bound to respect the order of the court. Following the court order, Windhoek Premium Lager Beer which does not bear code Number MB66 became restricted and prohibited goods, save where specific written consent of Mabibo has been sought and obtained. Source: Tanzania Daily News.

 

Namibia – Weak Rand Plays Havoc With Trade Balance

south-african-rand-zar-bearishThe continued weakening of the Rand and an increase in the volume of imports has seen Namibia’s trade deficit widen to N$17 billion, the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has said.

The country’s import bill jumped 24% in 2012 to N$59 billion widening the trade deficit to N$17 billion compared to N$11 billion in 2011. Despite a fall in the share of some of the major imports to the total import bill, the value of imports still increased to N$59 billion compared to N$48 billion in the previous year.

Major imports for 2012 included mineral fuels, mineral oils, vehicles, boilers and machinery. Fuel dominated the list of imports with a share of 13% up from 9% in the previous year. Vehicles were in second place with a share of 11% (compared to 12% in 2011) of total imports. Boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances occupied third place with 9% a slight decline from 10% in 2011.

The Statistics Agency said an 80% increase in the value of oil imports (at N$7.8 billion) can be explained by a 14% depreciation of the Namibia Dollar/Rand against the US$ in the period under review since the 2012 average price of oil in US dollars was almost the same as in 2011. In addition, an increase in the volume of imports especially ships, boats and floating structures that recorded the strongest increase of almost 2100%, also contributed to the widening deficits.

South Africa remains Namibia’s most important trading partner with combined trade between the two countries amounting to N$48.6 billion in 2012. However, the direction of trade between the two countries remain skewed with Namibia importing N$41.6 billion worth of goods from South Africa, while exporting goods worth only N$7 billion to South Africa.

Analysts say while a weaker local currency boosts earnings of companies that sell their goods overseas, it adds to import costs, making food and fuel more expensive. With a relatively low industrial base, and a saturation in the mining sector, Namibia’s exports only grew marginally to N$42 billion up from N$37 billion in 2011. This growth is too small to have a meaningful impact on the widening trade deficit.

In 2013, the construction of the multi-billion dollar Husab Project, the Grove Mall and Square, Strand Hotel, the container terminal at Walvis Bay, and the Neckartal Dam is likely to put further pressure on the import bill worsening Namibia’s trade deficit even further. An estimated 80% of capital goods for these projects will be imported. Source: The Economist (Namibia)