US trade mission generates interest

THE annual trade mission to be hosted by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade and the Namibian embassy in Washington is generating a lot of interest in Namibia as well as the United States (US).

The conference is scheduled to take place in Windhoek from Wednesday to Friday.

Although the number of delegates from the US could not be established, the honourary consul of Namibia in Texas, Robert Braubach, an attorney and councillor at law, confirmed his participation.

“I will be on the trade mission organised by Namibian ambassador Williams, and would like to introduce the two other delegates from San Antonio,” he said in a statement sent from the US.

According to Braubach, also travelling from Texas on the mission are representatives from the University of Texas Health Science Centre, and the Alamo Colleges.

“Both entities have agreements with Namibia,” he said.

“San Antonio has a sister-city agreement with Windhoek, and a number of other agreements which act as a road map for a long-term relationship,” he said.

Former Windhoek mayor Muesee Kazapua signed an agreement with the mayor of San Antonio, Ivy Taylor, in October 2016, on exchanging knowledge and ideas on water management, energy policies and housing.

Options for cooperation and economic opportunities were discussed between the parties.

The partnership was the result of a long negotiation process, which started with the first proposal to establish formal relations in January 2011.

Braubach said hunting and conservation are important to Texas and Namibia.

Minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta has defended trophy hunting in Namibia against criticism from countries such as Kenya, which has banned the activity.

“In Namibia conservation hunting is highly regulated, and employs people in their thousands. It contributes more than half a billion Namibia dollars a year,” Shifeta said in a debate on the issue with Kenya’s former cabinet secretary of environment, Judi Wakhungu, in 2019, according to the British publication Independent.

Before the peak of Covid-19, trophy hunting in Namibia reportedly constituted at least 14% of the total tourism sector, and was a significant component of the country’s economy.

“Some 24% of the income earned in the trophy hunting industry benefited poor segments of society in the form of wages and rentals/royalties. About 21% of income generated is captured by the government through fees and taxes,” says an analysis by Michael Humavindu and Jonathan Barnes.

Braubach said Texas energy companies are looking for new energy opportunities because of rising oil and gas prices.

He said San Antonio has the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, and they are interested in promoting tennis to junior players in Namibia.

Last week Hospitality Association of Namibia chief executive officer Gitta Paetzold welcomed the prospective visit of the US delegation and said it would be good for the tourism sector.

“We are excited to be part of the invitation list. Besides links with the US hunting fraternity, the tourism fraternity in Namibia has not made much inroads into the US travel market. We hope to reach to some of the people on the delegation to promote Namibia,” she said.

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