Return to: Index of "1996 Country Commercial Guides" || Index of "Economic and Business Issues" || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State 
Namibia Country Commercial Guide 
Office of the Coordinator for Business Affairs 
                          COUNTRY COMMERCIAL GUIDE 
                              NAMIBIA 1995 
Prepared by 
American Embassy Windhoek 
July 1995 
                           Table of Contents 
I.          Executive Summary................................. 
II.         Economic Trends and Outlook....................... 
III.        Political Environment.............................  
IV.         Marketing U.S. Products and Services.............. 
V.          Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment... 
VI.         Trade Regulations and Standards................... 
VII.        Investment Climate............................... 
VIII.       Trade and Project Financing...................... 
IX.         Business Travel.................................. 
X.          Appendices....................................... 
Appendix A:     Country Data................................ 
Appendix B:     Domestic Economy............................ 
Appendix C:     Trade....................................... 
Appendix D:     Namibia Contact Points...................... 
Appendix E:     Trade Event Schedule........................ 
I.  Executive Summary 
Namibia, a sparsely populated market-oriented democracy on the 
southwestern coast of Africa, is one of the newest nations on the 
continent.  Since gaining independence from South African rule in March 
1990, Namibia has been a model of peaceful political transition.  The 
Namibian economy is most notably characterized by its dual nature: a 
modern market sector which produces most of the country's wealth, 
contrasted by a traditional subsistence sector that supports the 
majority of the population.  Agriculture and herding are the occupations 
of most Namibians, but the country also enjoys a small skilled work 
force and a well-trained professional class.  The economic policies 
pursued by the current government are aimed at alleviating the effects 
of apartheid, including the unequal income distribution and lack of 
opportunities that afflict most indigenous Namibians. 
Despite the small population, limited internal market and lack of 
historical trading ties outside of South Africa, there is ample 
opportunity for Namibia to become a gateway for business looking to 
enter the Southern African regional market.  The new government's 
history of fiscal discipline and pursuit of a free market economy, 
coupled with the fine infrastructure and the accessible port of Walvis 
Bay (site of a nascent Export Processing Zone), make Namibia a prime 
candidate for investment and future growth.  Job creation is among the 
highest of priorities for the Namibian government.  Bringing previously 
disadvantaged Namibians into the economic mainstream through private 
sector (commercial) development has led the Government to actively seek 
foreign investment and maintain a positive partnership with the private 
Namibia has significant resources that can provide solid economic 
growth.  The country has also adopted tight macroeconomic and fiscal 
policies up to now, and has earned a respected international credit 
rating.  The mining, fishing, tourism, and manufacturing sectors of the 
economy offer the best prospects for development and expansion.  Namibia 
is looking to diversify its economy away from diamonds and uranium, the 
major export commodities, and away from reliance upon South Africa, 
which provides 85 percent of all the imported goods sold in Namibia.  
The Government is looking to expand the labor-intensive manufacturing 
sector in order to boost employment figures and GDP.  The country also 
intends to capitalize on the natural beauty and rich diversity that is 
Namibia through development of the tourism sector.  The fine climate, 
superior infrastructure, favorable location, and stable government make 
Namibia a prime candidate for international banking, health care, and 
transportation facilities. 
U.S trade with Namibia has been seriously handicapped by the Southern 
African Customs Union's (SACU) exclusionary trading practices, which 
impose tariffs as high as 110 percent on high-value consumer goods that 
U.S. manufacturers have the comparative advantage in producing.  Most of 
the American products purchased in Namibia are exported from the States 
to South Africa, and then re-exported to Namibia by South African 
distributors.  As SACU is re-negotiated and members are required to meet 
GATT-mandated regulations, U.S. manufacturers will find the Southern 
African market open up considerably.  Despite the expense, Namibians 
hold high regard for the quality and technology offered by U.S. goods 
and services.  U.S. business is courted by a trade-friendly, investment-
needy government, but sometimes faces difficulties from the well-
connected, long-time suppliers of competing goods.  Main imports into 
Namibia include foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, vehicles, machinery, 
transport equipment, electronic goods, and petroleum products.  Namibia 
exports diamonds, uranium, copper and other base metals, seafood, 
handicrafts, beef and other agricultural products, semi-precious stones, 
marble, and granite.  There are opportunities for both countries to 
increase bilateral trade and investment, and develop even further the 
positive relations that already exist. 
II. Economic Trends and Outlook 
Since independence in 1990, the Namibian government has been focusing on 
increasing economic stability in the region.  The government realizes 
that macroeconomic stability is essential for economic growth.  As seen 
in recent fiscal year budgets, the government continues to produce well-
crafted blueprints which embody prudent fiscal discipline. 
The economy of Namibia grew strongly at 5.4 percent during 1994 after 
decrease of real GDP during 1993 amounting to 3.3 percent.  The economy 
is expected to grow at an average rate of 4 percent.  In 1994, Namibia 
had a current account surplus of $207 million and a capital account 
deficit of $122 million.  The current account has consistently 
maintained a surplus from the healthy demand for Namibian exports, 
specifically diamonds.  However, consumer price inflation accelerated in 
1994 to almost 11 percent compared to 8.5 percent in 1993, due primarily 
to a stronger inflationary drift in South Africa and the depreciation of 
the rand. 
Currently, Namibia has a mixed economy consisting of privately and 
publicly-owned enterprises.  Although most business enterprises in 
Namibia are privately owned, direct state involvement in the economy 
takes the form of parastatals.  These parastatals are mostly in the 
postal services, telecommunications, development banking, electricity 
and water supply, and transport, in addition to agricultural commodity 
marketing boards.  However, the government is actively promoting private 
sector activities in lieu of parastatals in order to create employment. 
Namibia is an open economy with export earnings exceeding 50 percent of 
GDP.  Imports are similarly high.  The government is strongly 
encouraging increasing trade in many sectors of Namibia's economy.  
Currently, the economy is highly integrated with the Republic of South 
Africa as most of Namibia's imports originate there.  The relationship 
with South Africa is seen through the membership of regional economic 
groups.  For example, Namibia belongs to the Southern African Customs 
Union (SACU) with South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland.  These 
countries share a common external trade tariff and goods are allowed to 
flow across borders unimpeded by tariffs or other restrictions.  In 
addition, the Namibian currency, the Namibia Dollar, successfully 
introduced in September 1993, is pegged on par with the South African 
Rand.  Therefore, prices of goods in Namibia will continue to be heavily 
influenced by prices in South Africa.  The heavy dependence on South 
Africa is beginning to change as Namibia seeks to diversify its 
commercial relationships. 
Five prominent sectors in Namibia (mining and energy, manufacturing, 
fishing, agriculture, and tourism) hold promise for economic growth.  
The mining industry is the principal source of income for Namibia 
comprising approximately 20 percent of the country's total GDP.  Namibia 
is a major producer of uranium, pyrites, cadmium, arsenic, silver and 
fluorspar.  Gem-quality diamonds are the country's largest generator of 
foreign exchange, accounting for nearly one-third of export revenues.  
The diamond industry was previously monopolized by De Beers.  However, 
in November 1994, President Nujoma signed an agreement with De Beers 
which gives the state a 50 percent stake in the new Namibian company, 
NAMDEB.  The Government of Namibia is encouraging investment in the 
mining sector to diversify products and maintain mining as the backbone 
of the economy. 
Although diamonds continue to be Namibia's leading source of export 
earnings, there is a small but growing manufacturing export sector.  
Excluding fish processing, the contribution of the manufacturing sector 
to the total GDP was about 5 percent in 1993.  Including fish processing 
this percentage rises to 9.2 percent.  Because the manufacturing sector 
plays a minor role in the economy, there is a strong effort to enhance 
this industry in order to increase value-added products in the region 
for export.  However, Namibian manufacturing is inhibited by a small 
domestic market, dependence on imported goods, and a limited supply of 
local capital.  A small skilled labor force, high labor costs and 
subsidized competition from South Africa add to the difficulties.  
Scarce supplies of energy and water are also constraints to large-scale 
manufacturing in Namibia.  Presently, the primary industrial activity in 
the country (excluding mining) is in food (meat and fish) processing.  
Other light industries include brewing, plastic products, furniture, 
textiles and apparel, steel fabrication, and small crafts. 
Commercial fishing and fish processing is quickly becoming the fastest-
growing sector of the Namibian economy in terms of employment, export 
earnings, and contribution to GDP.  White fish, especially hake, is 
Namibia's richest marine resource.  Main species include pilchards 
(sardines), anchovies, red herring and horse mackerel.  There are also 
stocks of rock crab, lobster, squid, tuna, mussels, oyster and lantern 
fish.  The fishing industry suffered a decline in its resources in pre-
independence Namibia due to severe over fishing.  The government is now 
pursuing a conservative resource management policy along with an 
aggressive fisheries enforcement campaign to insure the sustainable 
viability of this important sector. 
The agricultural sector contributes only 8.5 percent to Namibia's 
monetized GDP; however, around 70 percent of Namibians rely on it for 
their livelihood.  Agriculture consists primarily of livestock ranching.  
Cattle raising is predominant in the central and northern regions, while 
karakul sheep, goat, and ostrich farming are concentrated in the more 
arid, southern regions.  The ostrich industry is one of the fastest 
growing agricultural sectors in Namibia.  Subsistence farming is 
confined chiefly to the so-called "communal lands" of the country's 
populous north, where roaming cattle herds are prevalent and the main 
crops are mahango (millet), sorghum, corn, and peanuts.  The Namibian 
government would like to increase local processing, particularly of 
livestock, to diversify crop production and to narrow the gap between 
commercial and subsistence farming. 
The tourism industry is small, presently accounting for 7 percent of the 
total GDP.  However, it is expected to grow substantially.  Promotion of 
the tourism industry is a major focus of the government, and development 
of 4-star hotels with gambling casinos and upscale tourist facilities 
has proceeded apace over the past year .  With its spectacular deserts, 
canyons, and mountains, along with a wide array of flora and fauna, 
Namibia is known as "Africa's Gem".  Namibia is home to the world's 
oldest desert, the Namib, which extends along the coast from Angola to 
South Africa.  The country boasts a wide variety of game, much of which 
ranges in conservation areas such as the world-renowned Etosha National 
Park, Skeleton Coast Park, and the Namib-Naukluft Park.  Namibia also 
has the world's highest sand dunes at Sossusvlei, as well as the Fish 
River Canyon, Africa's "Grand Canyon".  The Ministry of Environment and 
Tourism is keen on developing eco-tourism.  In February 1994, the 
government unveiled its "White Paper" on tourism which elaborates a 
strategy for development of this sector.  In May 1995, Namibia became 
the first African country to host the Miss Universe pageant, which 
presented Namibia an opportunity to showcase its tourism potential. 
Namibia has an impressive infrastructure conducive to foreign 
investment.  The road system is highly developed and well maintained, 
with most of the major roads paved.  Construction is currently underway 
on a Trans-Kalahari Highway which will link Namibia and Botswana.  In 
the north-east, the all weather Trans-Caprivi Highway will link Namibia 
to south-east Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and northern Botswana.  Namibia 
also has a small rail system, a superb international airport in 
Windhoek, and several smaller airports capable of handling large 
aircraft.  Furthermore, Namibia is in the process of procuring state-of-
the-art technology to modernize its already impressive communications 
infrastructure, including the erection of new satellite earth stations 
which will link Namibia with the world.  The well-developed 
infrastructure in Namibia is a unique asset to the foreign investor 
interested in the Southern Africa region. 
III.  Political Environment 
Namibia gained its independence from South Africa on March 21, 1990, and 
recovered Walvis Bay in March 1994. Independence marked a decisive break 
with the past, as Namibia has established itself as a multiparty, 
nonracial democracy.  The Constitution contains an entrenched Bill of 
Rights, providing for freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, 
and religion.  It also establishes a bicameral Westminster-style 
parliament with a strong executive, an independent judiciary, and 
effective separation of powers. 
General elections for the National Assembly (the first house of 
Parliament) and the President are held every five years.  In the 
December 1994 general elections, President Sam Nujoma was elected to a 
second 5-year term of office, and the ruling SWAPO party won 53 of the 
72 elected National Assembly seats.  Elections were also held in late 
1992 to choose members of the 13 Regional Councils, as well as new 
municipal officials.  Two members from each Regional Council serve 
simultaneously as members of the National Council, the country's second 
house of Parliament.  These elections take place every 6 years. 
Namibia's political spectrum is made up of several different groups, 
ranging from traditional groupings based on tribal authority to modern 
political parties.  The South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) 
is the ruling party, and has been since Independence.  Formerly Marxist-
oriented, SWAPO now champions a multiparty democracy, a mixed economy, 
and national reconciliation.  The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), 
Namibia's chief opposition party, governed Namibia under Pretoria's 
supervision for the decade prior to Independence.  Other political 
parties represented in the Parliament are the United Democratic Front 
(UDF); the Democratic Coalition of Namibia (DCN), newly formed before 
the December 1994 elections; and the Monitor Action Group (MAG), a 
conservative party with support from portions of the small white 
community.  Parliamentary debate is open and lively. 
Because of their shared democratic and free market values, Namibia and 
the United States have enjoyed warm bilateral relations.  The United 
States was instrumental in helping Namibia gain independence, and 
continues to work with Namibia to foster democratic principles.  The 
U.S. Embassy in Windhoek was established shortly after independence.  
Currently, the United States and Namibia are working together to 
increase the human resource capacity of previously-disadvantaged 
Namibians, to promote small private enterprise development, and to 
improve the education system.  Encouraging local entrepreneurs and 
increasing employment opportunities for Namibians are the stated 
government policies that most affect the business climate. 
IV. Marketing U.S. Products and Services 
 While the appeal of American products and services is slowly growing in 
Namibia, marketing here requires special efforts.  For example, 
Namibia's historical isolation has left it ill-prepared to provide the 
customer service required to cater to the type of foreign tourist 
Namibia wishes to attract.  The expertise of the United States' service 
industry would be of great benefit to Namibian entrepreneurs seeking to 
capitalize on the increased volume of tourists to the country. 
Additionally, South African and German-linked concerns dominate the 
marketing and distribution networks in Namibia, as well as many of the 
product-line markets.  This fact, coupled with the high cost of imports 
from outside the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), creates a 
distinct disadvantage to U.S. producers who compete against goods made 
by countries within the union.   Therefore, joint-venture opportunities 
may be the best vehicle for increasing U.S. products and services in 
Namibia.  The government's push to bring more indigenous business people 
into the mainstream, including various incentive packages, are an added 
benefit to U.S. companies interested in the Southern Africa market.   
The Namibian Development Corporation (NDC), as well as Namibian National 
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NNCCI) and its affiliated chambers, 
offer services to foreign investors in need of agents, distributors, and 
joint-venture partners. 
Business in Namibia may be conducted in the form of a public or private 
company, branch of a foreign company, partnership, joint venture, or 
sole trader.  Companies are regulated in Namibia under the Companies 
Act.  The Act covers both domestic companies, as well as those 
incorporated outside Namibia but trading through a local branch. 
Both public and private companies are required to obtain from the 
Registrar of Companies approval for the name of the company before 
incorporation.  A branch of a foreign company must register within 21 
days of establishing a business in Namibia.  There are no specific 
registration requirements for Partnerships and Sole Traders.  All 
businesses must obtain the appropriate trading license from the local 
municipality.  In addition, businesses must also register with: 
--The Workmen's Compensation Commissioner with regard to the government 
operated workmen's compensation insurance scheme; 
--The appropriate Industrial Council governing the pertinent trade or 
--The Ministry of Finance with regard to finance; and 
--The Receiver of Revenue as an employer. 
An external company must maintain statutory records in Namibia which are 
necessary to fairly present its state of affairs and business in 
Namibia.  Registered offices and business records must be maintained; 
Namibian accountants and auditors must be appointed and engaged; and 
adherence to laws of taxation and labor is required. 
Namibia is endowed with well-trained and experienced professional people 
in various fields.  However, the government realizes that there are 
sectors of the economy in which there is a shortage of skilled labor.  
Therefore, work permits for expatriates may be obtained in the bona fide 
absence of suitable qualified or experienced local candidates. 
Sales of goods and services to the Government of Namibia are usually 
conducted by means of a fair tender/bidding process.  Most Namibian 
government tenders are of quantities and commodities that would not 
interest the standard U.S. supplier, but there are notable exceptions 
that are reported to the Department of Commerce's National Trade Data 
Bank for distribution. 
Like South Africa, Namibia's legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law.  
This system differs from the common law system in the United States.  
The American Embassy in Windhoek can provide information on which local 
attorneys have expertise in trade and investment matters.  The 
establishment of a company in Namibia must be done through an attorney.  
Beyond that, there is no particular need to obtain legal services.  In 
cases of intellectual property protection, disputes can be handled by a 
local attorney. 
V. Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment 
Due to Namibia's small internal market, opportunities for import-
substitution investment are limited.  The prospects for U.S. trade and 
investment are thus not solely for the Namibian market.  Therefore, 
Namibia should be viewed as a gateway into the rest of the Southern 
Africa region.  With its excellent physical and managerial 
infrastructure, Namibia can provide a platform for servicing markets in 
Central and Southern Africa.  Moreover, Namibia's stable political 
climate, positive and open attitude to foreign investment, and the port 
of Walvis Bay are all valued assets to a potential U.S. exporter or 
Best Trade and Investment Opportunities for Non-Agricultural Goods and 
There is opportunity for U.S. products and services in those products 
that are either not available within SACU or in products and services in 
which the U.S. has a comparative advantage, thus offering high quality 
products at lower costs. 
--Low-cost housing:  Affordable low-cost housing is needed in various 
regions throughout Namibia including low-cost building materials 
suitable for sunny, arid climates. 
--Oil and gas exploration:  Namibia still has large unexplored areas 
with offshore blocks seeming to hold the greatest promise.  The country 
has issued several oil and gas licenses, and is seeking interested 
bidders in a second licensing round through 1995. 
--Tourism services and products:  The tourism sector, specifically eco-
tourism, holds promise for U.S. service industries.  As establishments 
bordering state-owned national parks become commercialized, there is 
considerable potential for the building of accommodation facilities and 
various tourism services.  There will also be potential for U.S. exports 
of camping equipment or products geared toward eco-tourism. 
--Value-added manufacturing:  In the manufacturing sector, the country's 
goal is to increase value-added products (e.g. mineral processing).  
This is also an area where American equipment (either new or previously 
owned) could be sold for manufacturing purposes. 
--Telecommunications equipment:  Namibia has a fairly well structured 
telecommunications system.  However, updated equipment will be needed as 
Namibia moves forward in development of this sector. 
--Water and energy technology:  The availability of water is a great 
concern in this dry desert climate.  The recent drought situation has 
also added an urgent need for water facilities.  In addition, the 
government and the private sector are constantly looking for alternative 
energy sources (e.g. solar energy).  There is a possibility of U.S. 
technology transfer through technical assistance, engineering, and 
consulting services in these sectors.  Desalinization projects would 
certainly be a "best prospect" in arid Namibia. 
Best Trade and Investment Opportunities for Agricultural Goods and 
Namibia's dry climate and generally soil-poor topography does not lend 
itself to high yield food production.  Instances of drought only 
exacerbate the problem and increase the need to import foodstuffs.  The 
United States has recently sold corn and wheat to Namibia, but South 
Africa has long been Namibia's source for most agricultural products 
outside of grains and meat.  Becoming more self-sufficient 
agriculturally is a high priority of the government, and much of that 
technology and know-how can be gained from the United States. 
--Used agricultural equipment:  Reliable agricultural equipment will be 
fundamental as Namibia strives to increase production for subsistence 
use and for agribusiness opportunities. 
--Agricultural chemicals:  Chemicals applied to agricultural uses or for 
clearing of range bush may be an area of potential sales for U.S. 
producers, provided such chemicals are environmentally safe. 
--Agricultural processing:  Investment opportunities are available in 
leather and tallow products such as glue and gelatin, processing of 
pelts and wool of the karakul sheep, millet milling, meat and dairy 
processing, and fruit and vegetable processing including canning, 
blanching and freezing various products. 
--Fish processing:  There is a dire need for investment in onshore 
processing and modernization of existing facilities.  There are also 
opportunities in the fishing support industries such as marketing, 
canning and packaging materials, ingredients for fish processing, plant 
and equipment, vessel servicing, cold storage, transport services, 
surveillance and inspection. 
--Consumer-ready food products:  Most of the food products in Namibia 
are imported from South Africa.  As previously stated, Namibia would 
like to diversify its food sources away from South Africa.  There is a 
potential market for U.S. packaged food products. 
--The Government of the United States acknowledges the contribution that 
outward foreign direct investment contributes to the U.S. economy.  U.S. 
foreign direct investment is increasingly viewed as a complement or even 
a necessary component of trade.  For example, roughly 60 percent of U.S. 
exports are sold by American firms that have operations abroad.  
Recognizing the benefits that U.S. outward investment brings to the U.S. 
economy, the Government of the United States undertakes initiatives, 
such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) programs, 
investment treaty negotiations and business facilitation programs, that 
support U.S. investors. 
VI. Trade Regulations and Standards 
Namibia is an advocate of regional economic integration.  Namibia 
belongs to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  SADC was 
established as a vehicle for closer regional integration and balanced 
regional development.  The organization, composed of eleven member 
states, has been successful in forging a regional identity.  These 
eleven countries, together, make up nearly a quarter of the African land 
mass, and have a combined population of nearly 150 million.  As 
previously stated, Namibia is also a member of the Southern African 
Customs Union.  SACU, reformulated in 1969, provides a basis for 
dividing customs and excise revenue and the establishment of a Customs 
Union Commission for consulting among member states.  Within SACU no 
tariffs exist on goods produced in and moving among the member states. 
Most imports from outside the Customs Union are subject to tariff rates.  
U.S. exporters face a high external tariff comprising a basic customs 
duty as well as a scaled tax in the case of luxury items which can be as 
high as 110 percent.  The Republic of South Africa administers the SACU, 
levying and collecting customs and excise duties for all members.  An 
allocation of these revenues is distributed to the members based on an 
agreed formula.  SACU provides the largest single source of revenue for 
the Government of Namibia.  Namibia is an advocate of free market and 
free trade;  however, membership in the SACU places Namibia in a 
dilemma.  Because SACU comprises 30 percent of government revenues, any 
modification to the current customs arrangements will require the taxes 
or other charges on the domestic economy to replace the lost revenues.  
However, GATT has put pressure on SACU to reduce tariffs and other 
barriers to trade.  Moreover, adjustments to the tariff structure should 
occur as both Namibia and South Africa are signatories to GATT and will 
be required to meet agreements and undertakings mandated by the World 
Trade Organization. 
Challenges to U.S. - Namibian Trade 
Distance, a small market size and a lack of historical trading ties 
between the United States and Namibia have contributed to the relatively 
low level of trade between the two nations.  Moreover, the Namibian 
economy is still highly dependent on South Africa for much of its 
manufactured goods.  Historical links, as well as SACU regulations, have 
also given South African companies an edge here.  Despite the "Buy 
Namibian" campaign started here by local manufacturers, South African 
products dominate the shelves at most Namibian retail outlets. 
Furthermore, there is no direct shipping service from the United States 
to Walvis Bay, Namibia's main port of entry.  All ocean shipments must 
first transfer to coastal freighters and ultimate delivery to Walvis Bay 
from Cape Town or Durban.  This additional cost, money, and time places 
U.S. exporters at a disadvantage.  With EPZ continued development, 
Walvis Bay could soon handle direct shipping access from Europe and/or 
the United States. 
Another impediment to trade for the U.S. exporter is the Letter of 
Credit which is required by U.S. exporters selling into Namibia.  
However, Namibian trade with the Republic of South Africa is usually 
conducted on an open accounting basis.  Therefore, the cost of Letters 
of Credit and utilization of bank lines of credit puts U.S. exporters at 
a disadvantage. 
A General Sales Tax of 8 percent is levied at the point of final sale.  
This tax, similar to a Value Added Tax (VAT), is also applied to 
products imported through the SACU.  The Additional Sales Tax Duty Act 
of 1993 provides for the imposition of an additional sales duty at 
prescribed rates on the dutiable value of goods imported into Namibia. 
Export controls are maintained on exotic and indigenous live animals 
(e.g. ostriches) but not on general manufactured products.  The 
regulations of the South African Bureau of Standards are still followed 
by Namibia for labeling requirements and other manufacturing standards. 
Free Trade Zones 
There are no free trade zones in Namibia. 
Membership in Free Trade Arrangements 
The reality of economic interdependence in the Southern African region 
has led Namibia to seek regional cooperation on a variety of issues, 
especially trade.  As previously mentioned, Namibia is a member of SACU, 
SADC, and the CMA.  In addition, Namibia maintains membership in the 
Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA) and the 
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). 
Namibia has also become a full and active member of the larger 
international community.  Prior to independence, Namibia's trade 
relations were almost exclusively with the Republic of South Africa.  
Namibia is highly interested in expanding its trading partners.  Since 
Independence, Namibia has signed bilateral trade agreements with twenty-
one major trading nations around the world. 
At present, Namibia is a member of the United Nations, the World Bank, 
the International Monetary Fund, the International Labor Organization, 
the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the General Agreement on 
Tariffs and Trade/ World Trade Organization. 
VII. Investment Climate 
Openness to Foreign Investment 
Namibia's stability along with its superb infrastructure and sound 
regulatory policies promote a fine investment climate of which foreign 
entities are encouraged to take advantage.  The primary focus of the 
government is to create jobs for this newly independent nation.  The 
country welcomes foreign investment as it sees the private sector as the 
most efficient provider of employment.  In this regard, the government 
has taken a number of positive steps to establish a system and 
environment conducive to foreign investment.  In order to stimulate 
investment into the region, Namibia established a liberal Foreign 
Investment Act in 1990. 
The Foreign Investment Act was written with the assistance of the United 
Nations Commission on Transnational Corporations to develop a framework 
for foreign companies setting up business in Namibia.  The Act was 
passed in December 1990 without amendment.  It provides for the 
establishment of an Investment Center within the Ministry of Trade and 
Industry to assist in the administration of the Act.  The Act guarantees 
foreign investors equal treatment with Namibian firms, fair compensation 
in the event of expropriation, international arbitration of disputes 
between the investors and the government, and the right to remit profits 
and access to foreign exchange.  Investment incentives are also 
available in the manufacturing area.  Moreover, the government has 
implemented special tax incentives for manufacturing enterprises such as 
an exemption on 80 percent of profits accruing to exports of 
manufactured goods (except fish and meat processing). 
Export Processing Zones 
The government has been encouraging overseas investment through the 
establishment of export processing zones (EPZs).  While the Foreign 
Investment Act is not applicable in the EPZs, special incentives for 
investment exist in these zones.  The port of Walvis Bay has been 
designated as Namibia's first, full-scale export processing zone.  (An 
earlier and smaller EPZ at Arandis has not lived up to initial 
expectations.)  The Walvis Bay zone, which became operational in mid-
1995, is geared toward promoting export-driven growth by attracting 
companies which serve not only the local market but also the whole of 
Southern Africa, Europe and the Americas.  EPZ incentives for investors 
--exemption from customs, import and export duties and any tax on 
equipment and goods; 
--exemption from income, profit and sales taxes; and 
--no tax on corporate profit. 
The government is looking into future sites for EPZs in Namibia. 
The Namibian Constitution allows for the formation of independent trade 
unions to protect workers' rights and to promote sound labor relations 
and fair employment practices.  The Labor Act of 1992 provides for trade 
unions and employee organizations.  Most workers are represented by a 
trade union.  The Labor Act established a Labor Advisory Council, Labor 
Court, District Labor Court, and Wage Commission.  At present, business 
operating within the Export Processing Zone are not required to adhere 
to the Labor Act, but are required to follow fair labor practices 
outlined by the government and the management of the Offshore 
Development Company which manages the Walvis Bay EPZ.  However, this is 
still a source of controversy between government and the labor unions. 
The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) is the largest labor 
federation in the country.  The NUNW, an affiliate of the ruling SWAPO 
party, represents workers organized into seven affiliated trade unions.  
Wage rates of U.S. $200 per month or more for a 45 hour work week are 
common.  Other issues such as overtime payments plus annual and 
maternity leave are also standard and should be considered by investors. 
While there is a large pool of qualified workers in varying professions 
in Namibia, a shortage of a highly skilled labor force does exist in the 
country.  The Namibian labor problem is a legacy of apartheid.  A large 
number of Namibians seeking jobs in the formal sector are held back due 
to a lack of necessary skills or training.  Consequently, the government 
is pursuing a comprehensive educational reform program to overcome this 
constraint.  The government also offers special tax deductions of up to 
25 percent to manufacturing concerns that provide technical training to 
Investment Barriers 
A foreign investor is free to set up any kind of business activity and 
will be subject to the same taxation and regulations as a Namibian 
company with one exception.  Where rights are granted to the company for 
the exploration of natural resources, the government is entitled to take 
a stake in the exploitation of those rights.  The government can also 
choose to allocate rights to Namibian companies on more favorable terms.  
For example, given the government's concerted efforts to "Namibianize" 
the fishing industry, joint ventures with Namibian concession holders 
may be the most expeditious manner in which to invest directly in the 
fishing sector.  The marginal corporate tax rate in Namibia is currently 
38 percent. 
Transfer Policies 
Under the Foreign Investment Act, the Bank of Namibia is obligated to 
sell foreign exchange to foreign investors with Certificates of Status 
to make payment transfers relating to foreign loans, license fees, 
royalties, profits, dividends, investment sale proceeds, and capital 
reductions.  Non-status investors are subject to potential exchange 
controls under South African regulations applicable to the Common 
Monetary Area.  In practice, there is no rationing of foreign exchange 
and investors do not experience delays in repatriating profits and 
dividends.  In general, the Namibian banking system is modern and 
efficient, and local commercial banks are fully capable of handling 
international financial transactions and trade financing with ease. 
Expropriation and Compensation and Dispute Settlement 
The Foreign Investment Act protects the investor from expropriation.  It 
also guarantees settlement of any disputes by international arbitration.  
The local court system provides an effective means to enforce property 
and contractual rights. 
Performance Requirements 
Namibia imposes no performance requirements on foreign investors.  In 
certain industries, local content requirements must be met in order to 
exempt final products from duties under the Southern African Customs 
Union.  The government reserves the right to take an equity position in 
mineral sector ventures. 
Right to Private Ownership and Establishment 
Parliament has the constitutional power to limit the property rights of 
foreigners, but no such legislation is contemplated and the Foreign 
Investment Act guarantees effective national treatment.  In practice, 
there are no restrictions on the establishment of private businesses.  
However, under the commercial agricultural land reform legislation 
enacted in 1994, there are certain restrictions concerning the foreign 
ownership of farmland. 
Protection of Property Rights 
The independent, transparent Namibian legal system protects and 
facilitates acquisition and disposition of property rights.    
Registration of patents, trademarks and designs is administered by the 
Registrar of Companies, Patents and Trademarks in Windhoek in terms of 
the applicable South African laws.  These comprise the Trademarks Act of 
1963, the Designs Act of 1967 and the Patents Act of 1978 whose 
provisions are generally in line with international norms.  This issue 
of intellectual property is understood by most companies operating in 
Namibia, but it is a new area for the government and has not yet reached 
Regulatory System 
Foreign investment is encouraged through the adoption of investment and 
employment codes by parliament.  Foreign investment is regulated through 
the Foreign Investment Act.  Labor regulations are equally applicable to 
all employers, local and foreign, except as noted in the Export 
Processing Zone. 
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment 
There is a free flow of financial resources within Namibia and 
throughout the Common Monetary Area.  Capital flows with the rest of the 
world are relatively free, subject to South African exchange controls.  
The Ministry of Finance registers portfolio managers and supervises 
actions of the Namibian Stock Exchange through the Director of Financial 
The Namibian Stock Exchange (NSE) was opened in September 1992 and 
currently lists nearly 20 companies.  The NSE continues to grow, and 
provides an alternative means of raising cash to Namibian companies.  
The Government hopes to attract the kind of mutual funds and foreign 
portfolio investors that have energized emerging stock markets elsewhere 
in the developing world, and has introduced incentives such as no 
marginal securities tax, and no income tax on dividends paid from after-
tax profits.  The NSE is the second largest African stock market in the 
total value of shares listed. 
Political Violence 
Political violence in Namibia is virtually non-existent.  Namibia enjoys 
a very stable political system under a multi-party democratic 
constitution.  Thus, political risk in the country is minimal.  However, 
political uncertainty in South Africa can highly affect the exchange 
rate in Namibia as the Namibian Dollar is pegged to the South African 
Bilateral Investment Agreements 
Although the government has expressed an interest in a bilateral 
investment agreement with the United States, currently there is no 
bilateral investment agreement. 
Investment Insurance Programs 
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will provide 
political risk insurance to qualified U.S. investors in Namibia.  
Namibia is also a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency 
Foreign Trade Zones 
Foreign firms will enjoy the same investment opportunities as Namibian 
companies.  There are currently no free ports in Namibia. 
Capital Outflow Policy 
No restrictions exist regarding capital outflows. 
Foreign Direct Investment Statistics 
Namibia currently does not maintain statistics on volume or direction of 
capital flows. 
VIII. Trade and Project Financing 
A Namibian central bank was established under the Bank of Namibia Act of 
1990.  The Bank of Namibia is the issuer of bank notes and coins, the 
foreign exchange authority, lender of last resort, banker to the 
Government and the commercial banks and the supervisory authority on 
financial institutions and monetary matters.  The central bank has 
formal authority over Namibia's foreign exchange dealings. 
Namibia forms part of the Common Monetary Area (CMA), which is an 
exchange control territory comprising Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, 
and Swaziland.  The currency, the Namibia Dollar, is freely convertible 
and pegged to the South African Rand at par.  Exchange control is 
administered by the Bank of Namibia.  Under the CMA Agreement, the rand 
is also legal tender in Namibia.  In its relations with countries 
outside the CMA, Namibia applies exchange controls that are the same as 
those of South Africa. 
The commercial banks in Namibia include Bank Windhoek Ltd., City Savings 
and Investment Bank, The Commercial Bank of Namibia Ltd, First National 
Bank of Namibia, and Standard Bank Namibia Ltd.  These banks provide 
comprehensive domestic and international banking services.  City Savings 
and Investment Bank was the first indigenous bank to offer merchant and 
investment banking services.  Project financing is available in 
agricultural products, commercial fishing, tourism, housing, and 
minerals and mining. 
The Namibia Development Corporation is a parastatal engaged in the 
supply of loans and equity, promotion of employment, sustainable local 
and foreign investment, trade, stimulation of small and informal 
economic activity, and management of agricultural projects. 
The Export Import Bank of the United States (EXIMBANK) provides 
insurance and guaranties for sales of services, products, and equipment 
to Namibia.  Terms and conditions are consistent with the products or 
project being financed.  Investment funding from OPIC is available for 
private sector projects in Namibia where there is significant U.S. 
investment or involvement. 
For agricultural projects, the United States Department of Agriculture 
(USDA) provides credit guarantees for up to three years for eligible 
commodities such as wheat, vegetable oils, dried pulses, oilseeds, wheat 
flour, feed grains, breeder livestock, poultry, tallow and salmon.  
These guarantees are available through the Commodity Credit Corporation 
(CCC) Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102).  An authorization of 
U.S. $110 million for Southern Africa, including Namibia, is available 
for fiscal year 1995. 
Namibia enjoys excellent creditworthiness in international financial 
circles, and is eligible to draw on IMF, World Bank, and African 
Development Bank resources.  Namibia's external debt service is 
negligible, as South Africa agreed in 1994 to forgive nearly 700 million 
rand of liabilities incurred during the South African administration of 
the former South West Africa. 
IX.  Business Travel 
There are no special business customs meriting attention by U.S. 
business persons. 
While the crime situation in Namibia is less severe than in most other 
African nations, continued high unemployment, inequality in living 
standards and an influx of rural people moving into Windhoek from the 
northern regions of the country unsuccessfully seeking work, have 
resulted in a steady increase in criminal activity.  The most common 
offenses include pick-pocketing, purse snatching, vehicle theft, and 
vehicle break-ins. 
A passport, an onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are 
required for entrance into Namibia.  Visas are not required for 
Americans for tourist or business visits of 90 days or less. 
The following are business holidays in Namibia in 1995:  March 21 
(Independence Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, May 1 
(Workers' Day), May 4 (Cassinga Day), May 25 (African Freedom Day), 
August 26 (Heroes' Day), December 11 (Human Rights Day observed), 
December 26 (Day of Goodwill). 
Visitors to Namibia will find several modern, well-equipped hotels with 
full telephone, telex and fax facilities.  Car rental services are 
available, and the road network between major towns is good.  A U.S. or 
international driver's license is sufficient to rent a car.  There are 
several scheduled international flights linking Windhoek with London and 
Frankfurt, and South Africa's Johannesburg and Cape Town. 
Health care facilities are relatively modern, especially in the city of 
Windhoek.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for 
health care services.  U.S. medical insurance is not always valid 
outside the United States.  Supplemental medical insurance with specific 
overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven useful.  Local 
commercial concerns offer a basic travel assistance policy for visitors 
to Namibia and several other Southern African countries.  All expenses 
are covered such as medical expenses, transportation, emergency travel 
and other assistance services.  These services are available at 
affordable fees, depending on the length of the visit. 
General consumables and food are widely available and reasonably priced. 
X. Appendices 
Appendix A 
Country Data 
Population:1.6 million (1994) 
Population Growth Rate:3.5 percent annual growth 
Religion (s):Predominantly Christian; also indigenous beliefs 
Government System:Republic as of March 21, 1990; Executive branch headed 
by an elected President; bicameral legislative branch composed of a 
National Assembly and the National Council; the Judicial branch is 
composed of the Supreme Court, the High Court, and lower courts 
Language (s):  English is the official language of Namibia; Afrikaans, 
German, and various indigenous languages also are spoken 
Work Week:  Monday - Friday 
Sources:Namibia Background Notes, 1991 Census Report, Namibia Trade 
Directory 1994-1995 
Appendix B 
Domestic Economy 
All figures are in millions of U.S. Dollars converted at the average 
Namibia Dollar exchange rate, unless otherwise noted. 
                                1993              1994          1995 est 
GDP (million N$)(a)          7,050.3           8,827.1               n/a 
GDP Growth Rate (%)              3.3               3.6               3.6 
GDP per capita ($)           1,414.0             1,465             1,500 
Government spending 
    (% of GDP)(b)               34.7              30.9                33 
Inflation (%)                    8.6              10.7               n/a 
    (% of formal sector)        30.0          35.0 est          40.0 est 
Foreign Exchange Reserves        n/a               n/a               n/a 
Average Exchange Rate for USD   3.27              3.55              3.61 
U.S. Assistance (million $)      3.5              13.4              12.9 
    (a)at current factor cost 
    (b)at current prices 
Sources:  U.S. Department of Commerce, Namibian Investment Center, 
Namibian Central Statistics Office - National Planning Commission, Bank 
of Namibia 
Appendix C 
                              1993             1994       1995 (1st qtr) 
Total Country Exports (a)  1,303.7          1,514.8           n/a 
Total Country Imports (a)  1,129.8          1,601.4           n/a 
U.S. Total Exports            19.7             16.3           9.9 
U.S. Total Imports            22.0             27.8           2.8 
    (a)at current prices 
Sources: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bank of Namibia, Namibian Central 
Statistics Office - National Planning Commission 
Appendix D 
Namibia Contact Points 
Ministry of Trade and Industry 
The Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hanno Rumpf 
Private Bag 13340 
telephone (264) 61-229933, FAX (264) 61-220227 
The Investment Center 
Mr. Steve Galloway, Acting Director 
Ministry of Trade and Industry 
Private Bag 13340 
telephone (264) 61-229933, FAX (264) 61-220278 
Namibia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NNCCI) 
The Secretary General, Mr. J. Dammert 
P.O. Box 9344 
telephone (264) 61-228809, FAX (264) 61-228009 
Customs and Excise 
Mr. Samson Kaulinge, Director 
State Revenue 
Private Bag 13295 
telephone (264) 61-2099111, FAX (264) 61-36454 
Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development 
Permanent Secretary, Mr. I. Kaulinge 
Private Bag 13184 
telephone (264) 61-2029111, FAX (264) 61-229961 
Ministry of Mines and Energy 
Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shimutuikeni 
8th Floor, Trust Center, Independence Avenue 
Private Bag 13297 
telephone (264) 61-226571, FAX (264) 61-238643 
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources 
The Permanent Secretary, Dr. J. Jurgens 
Private Bag 13355 
telephone (264) 61-240201, FAX (264) 61-224566 
Ministry of Environment and Tourism 
The Permanent Secretary, Ms. Ulitala Hiveluah 
Private Bag 13346 
telephone (264) 61-2849111, FAX (264) 61-22930 
Namibian Ports Authority 
Chief Executive Officer: Captain JD von der Fecht 
13th Road, Walvis Bay 
P.O. Box 361, Walvis Bay 
telephone (264) 642-8218, FAX (264) 642-8242 
Bank of Namibia 
The Deputy Governor, Mr. Tom Alweendo 
P.O. Box 2882 
telephone (264) 61-226401, FAX (264) 61-229874 
City Savings and Investment Bank 
P.O. Box 63 
telephone (264) 61-221-087, FAX (264) 61-221555 
Commercial Bank of Namibia 
P.O. Box 1 
telephone (264) 61-2959111, FAX (264) 61-224417 
First NationaL Bank of Namibia Ltd. 
P.O. Box 195 
telephone (264) 61-229610, FAX (264) 61-225604 
Standard Bank Namibia 
4th Floor Mutual Platz 
P.O. Box 3327 
telephone (264) 61-2942401, FAX (264) 61-2942409 
Namibian Development Corporation 
Private Bag 13252 
11 Goethe Street 
telephone (264) 61-306911, FAX (264) 61-33943 
Embassy of the Republic of Namibia to the United States 
Ambassador, Mr. Tuliameni Kalomoh 
Trade Attache, Mr. Paulo Shipoke 
1605 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20009 
telephone (202) 986-0540, FAX (202) 986-0443 
Embassy of the United States of America 
Ambassador, Mr. Marshall McCallie 
Economic and Commercial Officer, Mr. Philip Drouin 
14 Lossen St. 
Private Bag 12029, Ausspannplatz 
American Embassy, Windhoek 
Department of State 
Washington, D.C. 20521-2540 
telephone (264) 61-221601, FAX (264) 61-229792 
U.S. Department of Commerce 
International Trade Administration 
Mr. Finn Holm-Olsen, Namibia Desk Officer 
Room 3317, 14th St. & Constitution Ave., N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 
telephone (202) 482-4228, FAX (202) 482-5198 
Appendix E 
Trade Event Schedule 
The Windhoek Agricultural Show 
September 28 - October 5, 1995 
The Namibian International Trade Fair 
April 17-20, 1996 
To the top of this page