EU Delegation Visits Meatco

A delegation from the European Commission (EC) visited Meatco’s Windhoek abattoir last week, to see how the abattoir operates.

The delegation also wanted to assess Meatco’s adherence to international standards certification.

The EC’s visit to Meatco comes a few months before the 1 October 2014 deadline by which Namibia is expected to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EC. The government has not indicated whether or not Namibia will sign the agreement.

The last round of negotiations between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group and the European Commission (EC) was held in Brussels, Belgium in March.

According to the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF) which attended the negotiations, the issue of export duties and agriculture safeguards remain unfinalised and as such, negotiations could not be concluded between the two parties.

As a result, it was agreed that each member state is to report back to their governments regarding the progress reached in the negotiations and each country is to decide on the way forward, considering the outstanding issues.

Namibian beef producers currently enjoy access to the EU without paying duties and without any quota limitations. This allows Namibian cattle and beef production systems to be competitive in the European market. Should Namibia not sign the EPA, Namibian beef producers could lose this free market access and any exports to the EU will require export taxes to be paid for such products, a process that will be very costly for meat export businesses.

“SADC EPA ministers are to convene at the regional level as soon as possible to assess the progress in the negotiations, decide on whether a further negotiating session is needed with the EU and the regional approach to the EPA,” said Rejoice Karita, the senior trade aisor at the ATF.

Other SADC countries include Swaziland, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.

Karita said South Africa is expected to provide its final decision regarding the EPA in June. According to Karita, a decision will subsequently be made about where the region stands with regard to the EPA.

Namibia’s beef industry makes huge returns from the EU market, which in turn contributes 50% to the agricultural earnings.

Source : The Namibian