Livestock Industry Utter Sigh of Relief After Epa Finalisation

Namibian livestock industry has breathed a sigh of relief when it learned last week of the finalisation of negotiations surrounding the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Namibia and the European Union, and the official initialling of the EPA document.

Speaking to Farmers’ Forum, the General Manager of the Meat Board as controlling body of the livestock industry, Paul Strydom, was excited about the European Union and Namibia burying the battle axes and reaching an agreement on the re-negotiations of the EPA. “The bottom line of the achievement whereby the final EPA document was initialled by both parties, some two and a half months before the deadline of October 1, is that Namibia will benefit tremendously from the EPA.”

“Many studies over the years have proven that the Namibian livestock industry cannot survive without the lucrative European market. Namibia exports 60 percent of its meat to South Africa, and 40 percent to the EU markets, but the gains in the EU market are of such nature that Namibia receives 60 percent of worth back from the EU markets,” he says.

The EU Commission’s ambassador to Namibia, Raul Fuentes Milani, says it is indeed a great day for Namibia after negotiating for almost seven years. He says the text was accepted by both parties and all that needs to be done now is for the National Assembly to approve it. He notes that it could take up to one year before the complete EPA is ready for signing but adds that Namibia will in that time enjoy quota free and tariff-free access to the European markets.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, last week said in the National Assembly that Namibia has also achieved ensured improvements and justice in the bilateral security mechanisms to protect Namibia against sudden inflow of bigger volumes of goods from the EU.

Schlettwein said as soon as the EPA is implemented, external tariffs for the EU within Sacu will be harmonised.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Meatco as biggest exporter of Namibian meat products to the EU markets, Aocate Vekuii Rukoro, last Friday congratulated the Namibian government for their resolve in finalising the matter and ensuring that the European Market remains a viable option for livestock producers in Namibia. “We would especially like to congratulate Minister Schlettwein and his team on a job well done and extend the gratitude of our business and our producers to his ministry, the Ministry of Trade and Industry.”

“We are also thankful to the European Union for the spirit in which the negotiations were conducted, and for allowing Namibia to maintain quota free and tariff free access to its markets. Last year the value generated in this market, from Namibian beef alone, amounted to N$613 million. It is therefore evident that the European market provides enormous value for Namibian cattle producers. It ensures the sustainability of the Namibian cattle production industry and secures the livelihoods of farmers who depend on it,” he concluded.

Source : New Era