CHINESE companies have expressed interest in exploring areas in Namibia in which to invest. This includes key sectors, such as automobile, agriculture and chemical sectors.
In April 2019, a delegation from China met Namibian President Hage Geingob during a visit to Namibia geared at fast-tracking the implementation of agreements concluded at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing in September last year.
Secretary of the Jilin Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, Bayin Chaolu, was accompanied by a high-level delegation of individuals from the business, trade and economic sectors. Statements made by Bayin at the meeting, expressed an interest by China in exploring new areas of bilateral cooperation.
At FOCAC in 2018, Namibia signed an agreement to be part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a programme which China has indicated it launched to achieve shared growth through collaboration, with a heavy emphasis on infrastructure connectivity, policy coordination, financial cooperation, trade facilitation and enhanced people-to-people exchange. In addition, Namibia is set to get a portion of the US$10 Billion in development financing pledged by Chinese President, Xi Jinping.
Responding to criticism of Namibia’s renewed relationship with China, President Hage Geingob, emphasized that the the Namibian Government will not be lectured on who it could or could not do business with. He stated emphatically that, “We are being warned as if we are small children; that is sickening … we are being warned but we are mature people. We enter into agreements that will be beneficial to our people and China… I keep telling them that China is everywhere, why do they come lecture us about China? China is in the United States, UK, France and everywhere. Why are we being warned like children?”.
An array of African countries have in recent months, been forced to defend their relationship with China as increasing criticism mounts in Western Media about China’s intentions on the African continent.
Thus, the Namibian government is eager to show the mutually beneficial relationship with China, and their efforts were boosted when it was reported that Namibia has transported the first 21 tonnes of beef to China the world’s largest consumer market. The country has become the first African nation to export beef to the People’s Republic of China and this could be an important market for Namibia as its stabilizes after a two year recession.
In 2016, Namibia and China signed a milestone agreement that would see A-grade beef enter the Asian market, making it the only country in Africa to export beef to that country. In recent years, China-Namibia bilateral trade has gained greater momentum. According to Namibia Statistics Agency, China became the biggest importer (18 percent) of Namibia products in 2018.
Based on China Customs statistics, the total bilateral trade volume in the whole year of 2018 exceeded 800 million US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 45 percent, which was more than double the growth rate of overall trade with Africa.
Furthermore, China has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is only interested in Africa for its mineral resources and has emphasized that its no-strings-attached aid programs are widely welcomed.
The Namibian President Hage Geingob further emphasized that China-Africa cooperation is on equal footing and that China’s investment in his country is not just “digging out resources.” He concluded that, “No country in the world has added so much value to our products as China has. China has done a lot of technology transfer and job creation”.