President Jacob Zuma says South Africa and Namibia must strive to push trade volumes even higher than the status quo.
The semi-arid, diamond-rich country has strong economic ties with Pretoria.
South Africa is the destination of 66% of Namibia’s exports and holds approximately 80% of investments in key sectors of Namibia’s economy such as mining, retail, banking and insurance.
Speaking at the inaugural Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the two countries, Zuma said the forum should be a platform for the two countries to drive for more consistent interaction in key economic sectors, as well as adopt a strategic approach to all cooperation.
“The BNC should also contribute to taking forward regional integration and the promotion of intra-African trade and in particular infrastructure development, to ease movement of people and goods,” said Zuma, who is on a two-day state visit to Namibia.
Zuma said the two countries needed to prioritise cross-border infrastructure to facilitate the easy flow of goods and services, and continue to expand bilateral cooperation by exploring new areas, which are still untapped.
“We need to encourage our private sector to forge close cooperation consistent with our strategic desire to increase mutually beneficial economic cooperation between our sister republics.”
Zuma hoped that the visit would lay a firm foundation for regional collaboration in the fight against poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment.
“South Africa and Namibia share historical, geographical, cultural and fraternal bonds. Our relations were cemented during the difficult times of our respective struggles for liberation against colonialism and apartheid.”
“Ours, therefore, are relations of a special kind, which make it only natural and logical for our two countries to enjoy strong bilateral cooperation.”
Regarding peace and stability in the region, the President commended Namibia for what he labelled as “sterling work” in its capacity as the chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.