Standard Bank Namibia’s Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) Department hosted a networking event for the Chinese business community held in Swakopmund on 1 April 2015. This event took place a day after the well-attended budget review session at the Windhoek Country Club resort and Casino; an event traditionally held immediately after the Budget Speech. The aim of this networking session was to create a platform for intra-network opportunities amongst the Chinese business community as well as with Standard Bank. The event witnessed a number of speakers which included representatives from the Chinese business community and executives who spoke on behalf of Standard Bank. The main highlight of the event was the presentation on the state of Namibia-China trade delivered by Standard Bank’s Manager of Economic and Market Research, Mally Likukela.
Likukela began by noting that Namibia and China’s relationship dates back to the struggle for independence and was formalised immediately after independence whereby a number of corporation and trade agreements were entered into. The friendly cooperation between the two countries has ever since been developing in a steady and sound manner. This relationship has seen a number of Chinese nationals and companies growing significantly, and resulting in increased trade volumes between the two countries.
According to Likukela, the bilateral trade between Namibia and China as recorded by the Namibia Statistics Agency shows that the total value of goods exported to China amounted to N$206 million in 2004. Trade has risen significantly since then, by 2009, the total value of goods exported reached an all-time high of N$2.6 billion. The most important among these major exports to China are: copper and copper products; ores, slag and ash; residues and waste from food industries; fish and fish products; and paper, paperboard and articles of paper, which together accounted for an average of 81.5% per year, over the same period.
The increased export to China particularly for 2004-2009 was ascribed to high growth rates and a vibrant expanding manufacturing sector in that economy that pushed up demands for raw material. With regards to import, Namibia’s high import versus export, signifies a skewed trade balance that continues to exist between the two trading partners. The value of Namibia’s import from China was N$103 million in 2004, which grew to N$ 2.2 billion in 2009. Since 2003, Chinese export to Namibia consisted almost entirely of manufactured goods, namely automobile, machinery, electronic equipment, machines tools, information technology, and road-building and construction machinery.
Likukela informed the gathering that since 2009, trade with China dropped quite significantly, but this was ascribed to the financial crisis in 2009/10. However, trade has begun a steady increase following the global recovery, of which China is one of the fastest growing economies. The recent optimism in trade provides an opportune environment for further advancement of Chinese businesses in Namibia. The Chinese business community were thus encouraged to seize the moment of the growing economy and help Namibia achieve Vision 2030. Standard Bank assured the attendees that as Namibia’s prominent financial services provider, it stands ready to provide the much needed financial intermediation.
Likukela concluded the presentation with a discussion of the just tabled 2015/16 National Budget and emphasized that the National Budget is the Government’s way of supporting economy and businesses to grow and thrive. “Government wants to particularly support the construction industry, an area in which the Chinese business community commands a significant role,” he said.