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Senior officials met for the third session of the Namibia-South Africa Bi-National Commission, and discussed issues of mutual concern and strengthening bilateral cooperation.

The Executive Director of Namibia's Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation (MIRCO), Ambassador Penda Naanda, called on senior officials to rededicate their efforts aimed at addressing economic challenges and achieving sustainable goals.

Dr. Naanda cited, among others, South Africa's assistance to Namibia towards the drought relief efforts as well as the enabling of free trade between the two countries during COVID-19.

He also stressed the importance of growing the economies of the two countries through existing bilateral agreements.

Namibia and South Africa have signed more than 90 bilateral agreements covering a wide range of sectors, the most Namibia has ever signed with any bilateral partner globally.

Naanda further called on citizens of Namibia and South Africa to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as an instrument to intensify trade and investment.

"Trade and investment between our two countries continue to be strengthened by regional instruments such as the SACU agreement and SADC Trade Protocol. I want us to make sure that our discussions are focused and action-oriented with measurable goals of making positive changes in the lives of our people while deepening and broadening our bilateral cooperation and programs."

On her part, the Director General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Zane Dangor, also spoke on the need to conduct a thorough review of areas of cooperation as well as address challenges such as poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

"We must leverage our proximate positions and improve trade and investment partnerships. We are certain that more can be done economically between the two countries. Namibia remains one of SA's top five trading partners, with much potential. This meeting, therefore, provides us an opportunity to examine the scope of our bilateral relations and set the scene for new areas of cooperation based on our mutual interests and benefits."

The session is expected to prepare the ground for the ministerial and presidential segments.

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Celma Ndhikwa