Shiimi: Policy alignment key to AfCFTA success

SWAKOPMUND – Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi says policy alignment is key to creating fertile ground for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to succeed.

African countries need to work harder to boost trade with each other.

To achieve this, customs officials also play a key role in this effort to grow the economy and reduce poverty.

Shiimi was speaking at the opening of the 30th meeting of the governing council of the Eastern and Southern Africa Region of the World Customs Organization (WCO), held yesterday in Swakopmund.

“We need to implement effective border management in our region, particularly under the AfCFTA, digitalization, transit facilitation and data utilization. Simplified border procedures not only facilitate trade but also contribute significantly to economic growth and regional stability,” he said.

Shiimi further noted that trade between African countries leaves much to be desired.

To solve this problem, countries need to share information, connect their systems, and align their laws and policies.

Namibia’s commitment to this major project is a key step towards economic integration in the region. Customs officers facilitate trade, ensure rules are followed and create a good environment for business.

Shiimi is proud to say that Namibia hosting the meeting signifies the progress that the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) has made since its inception.

“This shows how important customs officials are in promoting trade in Africa,” the former central bank governor said.

The meeting was attended by customs officials from 24 countries, WCO Secretary General Ian Saunders and Council President Edward Kieswetter. The WCO is an international group that helps make cross-border trade easier and more efficient. It has 183 member countries.

Meanwhile, OMA council president Kieswetter said leaders should aim for unity and connection, reflecting their values ​​of family and stewardship.

“Leadership is a privilege, not a right, and requires a daily commitment to serve and improve the world we inhabit. In the face of rapidly evolving challenges driven by artificial intelligence and disruptive technologies, it is essential to recognize that a customs risk anywhere is a customs risk everywhere,” he stated.

He called for strong leadership that balances trade facilitation with law enforcement to protect society.

“When deliberating on customs issues, we must focus on our common good and defense against shared threats, always mindful of the people affected by our decisions and the responsibility to defend our leadership roles with integrity and dedication,” he urged.

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