Livestock Export Issues Delicate, Complex – Mutorwa

While officials of the ministries of trade and industry of Namibia and South African, as well as veterinary officials from both countries were locked in discussions in Windhoek yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa reiterated that Namibia accepts the June 10 date offered for substantive discussions over new, contentious animal health restrictions for livestock exports to South Africa, for now.

Next week Tuesday the Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) will come under the spotlight in discussions between the South African Directorate of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Namibian

livestock export industry and all relevant role players and stakeholders. Mutorwa made the remarks on Wednesday when he addressed local industry amidst growing concerns about the ongoing livestock export crisis, occasioned by the new animal health restrictions, which are causing local exporters millions of dollar each day.

He said it is the well-considered position and view of Namibia, for now, to agree with DAFF, saying the ministry remains committed to finding an amicable solution in respect of resuming Namibian livestock exports to South Africa.

Mutorwa was addressing the first feedback session after the first high-level bilateral meeting of May 9 in Pretoria. “In this regard, I publicly thank our colleagues, officials of the (DAFF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in South Africa for having responded positively to our request for a face-to-face bilateral meeting and our permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), who led our delegation.”

Mutorwa met with representatives of the Meat Board, all agricultural unions and the trade and industry officials on Wednesday this week in Windhoek to try and allay their fears in view of the current crisis. The crisis started when the new animal health restrictions came into effect on May 1.

However, the South African authorities have promised ‘a friendly solution’ following fresh discussions slated for next week Tuesday. A South African delegation, including veterinary experts arrived in Windhoek yesterday for in-depth discussions with their Namibian counterparts. The discussions are expected to conclude today and hopefully bring the relief sought by Namibian livestock exporters and related industries.

According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita, apart from the SOPs, a bilateral committee must also come up with suggestions on how the implementation of the new set of animal health requirements can be separated, so that they are made applicable only to animals exported for breeding purposes. Namibian producers are now clinging to the latest shimmer of hope for the crippled multi-billion dollar Namibian livestock industry on whose livelihood some 70 percent of the 2.2 million people of Namibia depend. Mutorwa said the draft minutes of the May 9 in Pretoria accurately capture the main decisions or understanding reached to finalize the SOPs by May 31, 2014. The minutes also indicate that a technical task team should meet to finalize the implementation of a two-permit system by both the parties. “My colleagues and I critically analyzed and studied the DAFF’s May 30 letter. We have a clear and full and empathetic appreciation and understanding of the obviously sensitive and delicate atmosphere and situational context, in which our colleagues in the DAFF, are dealing and expected to deal with this rather complex and emotional economic matter, with their industry stakeholders.”

Source : New Era