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Interview: China-Namibia relations poised to deliver significant benefits

Updated: January 12, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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WINDHOEK, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- China-Namibia ties are expected to enhance the southern African country's economic growth in 2024, bringing opportunities to generate tangible and significant benefits for the two peoples, said an independent economic and business researcher Thursday.

Over the years, the two sides have developed a strong economic and political partnership, with China emerging as Namibia's largest source of foreign investment and second-largest trading partner, said Josef Sheehama in an interview with Xinhua.

"Opportunities arising from the relationship include increased investment and infrastructure development," he said. "As Namibia's economy is projected to grow by 3.4 percent in 2024, according to the Bank of Namibia, the smart partnership with China will elevate Namibia's anticipation to exceed the desired economic growth."

Sheehama noted that China has become Africa's largest trading partner, significantly increasing trade volume and allowing Namibia to diversify its export markets. Furthermore, China's investments in mining, manufacturing and agriculture sectors have the potential to bolster Namibia's industrial capacity and promote economic diversification.

From January to June 2023, the trade volume between China and Namibia reached 750 million U.S. dollars, representing a year-on-year growth of 31 percent, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. Among these, China's imports from Namibia amounted to 430 million dollars, showing a year-on-year increase of 21.5 percent.

As of the end of 2022, the cumulative direct investment by Chinese enterprises in Namibia reached 180 million dollars.

"This cooperation can lead to technology transfer, skills development and increased productivity in these industries," he said.

For the economist, China-Namibia relations also offer opportunities for Namibia's tourism sector. He said the growing middle class in China has shown increased interest in international travel. Namibia's diverse wildlife, natural beauty and cultural heritage make it an attractive destination.

"By promoting tourism exchanges and collaboration, Namibia can benefit from increased tourist arrivals, generating revenue and employment opportunities," he reckoned.

The latest Tourism Arrival Statistical Report published by the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism showed that the number of Chinese visitors to Namibia increased to more than 1,500 in 2022. Namibia also welcomed its first group of 20 tourists from China in May 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheehama also highlighted the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which can further boost trade, strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, and promote the partnership between the Chinese community and Namibians.

"If fully explored, the BRI could contribute to the country's economic growth and create employment for Namibians. Improved infrastructure tends to attract more foreign direct investment and supports long-term economic growth," he concluded.

Editor: Gao Jingyan