Windhoek - The British government is eyeing a lion’s share of trade with both the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) as well as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), while outwitting China and the United States of America on engagements with the two blocs in the post Brexit era.
Although both SACU and SADC are closely knitted and moving towards group negotiations for better trade deals, the British last week revealed that they have a keen interest in cementing relations with individual member states from trade pacts that would mutually beneficial.
With trade links easily above a multibillion dollars, the British government said it was keen on a firm relation with SACU plus Mozambique following a move to dispatch the Minister for African Affairs to some parts of Southern Africa in a whirlwind tour last week.
British Minister of African Affairs, Andrew Stephenson, told The Southern Times his country is keen to be the trading partner of choice for Southern African as well as well as those countries that are in the common rand monetary area, namely South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho.
Stephenson said he was well aware of the other countries keen on cementing relations with member states in SADC as well as SACU but reiterated that the British government was keen on solidifying their interest in climate change, bilateral engagements as well as improvement of trade ahead of other super powers.
His assertions of a better trading arrangement with SACU plus Mozambique are aligned to a push by the British to outwit other keen stakeholders in the SADC region, including the United States of America and China.
“The UK always aims to be the partner of choice when engaging with our stakeholders here. We are keen to find a mutually beneficial line of engagement with the countries in the region as well as offer opportunities that benefit the two parties,” he said.
Data provided by the British Embassy in Namibia shows that trade between the two countries stands at close to US$700 million annually, with Namibia exporting about US$468 million to the European giant while the UK imported goods worth US$98 million from Namibia.
The trade relations are even more encouraging if adding statistics of imports and exports between the UK and SACU.
Stephenson said while the British people were keen on completing their exit from the EU, they were more interested in sustainable trade relations with the same countries that they had been engaged with while they were still a significant part of the EU.
He said the British government was keep to come up with solutions to the growing challenge of climate change through working with smaller countries who are more affected.
“We know that as the fifth largest economy in the world, we are among the top polluters but deliberate effort are being made by the British government to reduce carbon emissions as well as work with other countries through platforms like the COP25 in dealing with this challenge,” he said.
He said climate change remained one of the most challenging phenomenon facing the world today and needed all the efforts to combat it. Most countries within the SADC region have in the recent past been experiencing uncharacteristic weather patterns that have resulted in either severe droughts or severe floods.