Namibia – a development cooperation at the EU level

In February 2022, the National Board of Trade Sweden launched a development cooperation with Namibia. The cooperation is part of a larger EU project which aims to increase the country’s participation in international trade and contribute to Namibia’s economic growth.

Namibia has had a free trade agreement with the EU since 2016. The development cooperation aims to facilitate implementation of the free trade agreement and thereby increase Namibia’s access to the EU’s internal market. The partners are Namibia’s Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) and the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI).

Twinning project funded by the EU

The cooperation is part of a two-year EU project called EU Twinning. It is being conducted in partnership with several other organisations: Swedac, the Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS), and the equivalent German authorities. The Twinning cooperation complements a larger EU-funded project called “Support to the Economic Partnership Agreement Implementation Plan in Namibia”.

A project in two parts

The Twinning project has two components. One part focuses on harmonising standards and quality aspects to facilitate trade flows. Swedac, SIS and five German organisations are responsible for this part. The second part is run by the National Board of Trade and deals with technical barriers to trade. The National Board of Trade’s role is to strengthen the capacity of Namibian institutions to manage and reduce the incidence of unnecessary technical barriers to trade as a means of facilitating trade.

What is a technical barrier to trade?

All countries have the right to regulate the requirements for a product. These regulations can, for example, set requirements for the production or labelling of a product. The purpose is to ensure that the products made available are safe. The basis for regulation is usually human and animal health and/or environmental reasons. When different countries impose different requirements on the same goods so that the regulations differ, it becomes difficult to trade across borders – giving rise to technical barriers to trade. The WTO’s TBT Agreement deals with technical barriers to trade, and in what is called the TBT Committee, all WTO countries work together to try to reduce them. By using international standards as a basis for regulation, the risk of trade barriers can be reduced.

How we provide support in relation to technical barriers to trade

The National Board of Trade works to strengthen NSI’s and MIT’s capacity to comply with the WTO’s TBT Agreement. This is done, for example, by:

  • training regulators and industry organisations on technical barriers to trade
  • organising study visits to the WTO’s TBT Committee meetings in Geneva
  • guiding companies, trade organisations and authorities in the use of the WTO’s digital system for notification of regulatory changes
  • helping to establish Namibia’s National Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.

To disseminate knowledge that can live on and contribute to long-term change, the National Board of Trade works according to a coaching partnership approach. This means that we act as mentors, while our partners have great responsibility for carrying out the work.

The long-term goal: Increased prosperity in Namibia

Namibia’s exports currently consist largely of mining and fishing products, with a low degree of processing. The largest export markets are South Africa and China. By increasing knowledge about technical barriers to trade, the Twinning project aims to facilitate trade and make Namibia more competitive on the European market. This can ultimately contribute to increased growth, more jobs and prosperity for the Namibian population.