Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Thomas F. Daughton Namibia Trade Information Portal Launch

Honorable Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Finance,
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Ms. Ericah Shafudah,
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development, Mr. Gabriel Sinimbo,
Commissioner of Customs & Excise Bevan Simataa,
SACU representatives,
Distinguished guests, representatives of the media, ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning!  It is a distinct pleasure for me to participate today in the launch of Namibia’s new Trade Information Portal.  This crucial trade facilitation tool is another example of the United States helping the Namibian government to build a Namibian solution in response to a Namibian need – in this case, the need to expand trade.  And it hasn’t sprung into being overnight.  Realizing the Namibia Trade Information Portal required commitment and coordination among a variety of Namibian officials and agencies over the course of more than two years.   It is exciting to see the results of our collaborative efforts this morning, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Portal in action.

As everyone here knows, international business runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Successful businesses require and expect rapid access to information to remain competitive.  Systems must be quick and agile in order for countries to compete globally.  The new Trade Information Portal provides Namibia with the commercial responsiveness and agility the country needs to be competitive in the global market.

The Namibian government will use the Trade Information Portal to publish all of the relevant trade regulatory information in one location and make it accessible to national, regional and international trade partners.  With the activation of the Portal, Namibia now has a single, authoritative trade information source for businesses to get what they need now.  And when businesses work, Namibia’s economy grows.

We believe that improving trade flows in southern Africa is essential to promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and increasing the standard of living for hardworking Namibians – from the truck drivers who ferry goods across borders to the farmers and manufacturers who are generating Namibian exports.  Namibia is in an ideal position to capitalize on the region’s vast potential.  Unlocking that potential starts with improving the processes and procedures that govern trade.

That’s why experts provided by the U.S. government through USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub have been working closely with Namibian officials for two years to design and develop the Trade Information Portal.  The project has been a truly collaborative effort, an effort that has drawn heavily upon Namibian commitment and expertise to realize its vision.

We have welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with our Namibian partners on this important work, and I am delighted to be able to celebrate today’s launch with the many committed partners who have been involved along the way.

It’s important to point out that the Namibia Trade Information Portal is an essential piece of a larger, ongoing Namibian effort to capitalize on this country’s strategic position to increase commerce in the region.  The U.S. and Namibian governments are also working together to develop a “National Single Window” for Namibia.  The National Single Window will allow any individual or business involved in trade and transport to submit all of the required paperwork electronically via a single online site.  Other African countries that have built a National Single Window for trade have seen the time required for their customs and other processing drop from weeks or days to as little as 90 seconds.  Reduced processing costs translate into improved efficiency and a competitive edge.  That’s why our two governments are working together on the National Single Window: to help give Namibia that competitive edge.

While we hope to see the National Single Window realized soon, today we celebrate the realization of the Trade Information Portal.  I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development for the achievement of bringing the Trade Information Portal to this country’s trading landscape.  I look forward to our ongoing partnership and collaboration as Namibia continues its progress toward the next level of trading competitiveness.

Thank you.