Hong Kong Beef Export Market Confirmed

Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein says access of Namibian beef exports to Asian markets was confirmed during his recent visit to China and Hong Kong.

However, confirmation of the beef market diversification comes while Namibian health authorities and the Meat Board are still battling with their South African counterparts to have new animal health requirements for beef exports to South Africa revised. The newly implemented veterinary requirements will severely impact on the Namibian livestock industry and potentially have a devastating effect on communal and commercial farmers.

Schlettwein told New Era the new export routes for all grades of Namibian beef and meat products would bring an end to the dependency of Namibian producers on exporting animals on the hoof to South Africa. “We as the Ministry of Trade and Industry have long been warning about the dangers of just one export market for Namibian livestock and meat products and with the implementation of the new requirements for permits to export to South Africa, Namibia has woken up to that reality. Luckily we saw this scenario coming and pro-active thinking has resulted in these exciting markets opening up for us now. Representatives of China and Hong Kong’s animal health departments will already arrive in Namibia later this year to conduct local inspections. All the other animal and meat health issues have already been successfully dealt with and it’s just a matter of time before we start exporting anything from prime-cut beef to offal,” Schlettwein said.

Namibia pried the Asian markets last year when the Meat Board spearheaded a business mission to Hong Kong as part of its market diversification initiative for Namibia’s meat and meat products. After a positive reception by both markets, this was followed up by Schlettwein’s visit twee weeks ago. “While the Namibian Government is still engaged in high-end discussions with their South African counterparts about the harsh new requirements, we have also embarked officially on the road to opening new markets, which will see Namibian meat products of a great variety being exported. The impact of the new animal health requirements will be severe and especially for small stock and communal farmers as in most cases it is their only form of income and the new set of rules is sure to deprive them of that little income. Namibia has to diversify its lucrative meat industry, and the drama of obtaining new permits for export to South Africa has emphasised that and forced us to act pro-actively and open new and exciting doors,” Schlettwein added. The initial Namibian delegation convened meetings with officials from the Centre for Food Safety (CFS), which is a government institution within the Food and Environment Hygiene Department (FEHD) responsible for import and export control of food products in Hong Kong. It emanated from the meetings that there are a number of legal and administrative requirements that Namibia needs to comply with in order to access the Hong Kong meat market. But those have all been met, said Schlettwein.

Although the Namibian Directorate of Veterinary Services (S) has been recognised as a competent authority by the FEHD, it has not been approved to export meat products to Hong Kong. In this regard, the S submitted completed animal health questionnaires to obtain such export approval as soon as possible. Other import requirements are contained in the food labelling legislation, nutrition labelling requirements and pesticide control legislation.

Hong Kong has a negligible agriculture sector and most food products are imported. It is a free port and does not charge any custom duties on imports, except for a few products. Hong Kong consumers spend a large share of their monthly food budgets on meals bought away from home like in restaurants, hotels and fast-food outlets. Eating out is part of the Hong Kong culture and lifestyle.

Source : New Era