Witvlei Meat Takes Quota Issue to Norway

A three-man delegation from Witvlei Meat left for Norway last Sunday evening on a mission to put the prolonged fight over the 2014 beef export allocations at the door step of the biggest importers of Namibian beef.

Witvlei Meat will present two motions to the Norwegian government, asking them to split the local export quota equally between the current qualifying participants, Meatco, Witvlei Meat and Brukarros Meat Producers, as well as all new qualifying participants in the future. The Norwegian General Standard Processsystem makes provision for an annual quota of 2 700 tons for which duty free treatment of beef originating from Botswana and Namibia is conferred. The first motion is to formally approach the Norwegian Government with a request to prescribe to the Namibian and Botswana governments the way in which their portions of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) quota should be allocated within the respective countries. Should this motion fail, the Witvlei board plans to table a second motion requesting the Norwegian government to effectively remove all benefits resulting from this GSP quota to farmers located in Namibia, Botswana and Norway.

Confirming the new strategy to approach the Norwegian government directly in the bitter fight over the allocated quota for 2014, the Chairperson of the Witvlei Meat Board, Sidney Martin, told Farmers Forum it is done in a bid to ensure an equal playing field for all in the future. He and Managing Director, Hendri Badenhorst, will start talks with the Norwegian government as from today. The drastic new approach by Witvlei Meat comes in the wake of the private company winning an appeal it lodged in the Supreme Court against an earlier judgement ordering them to leave their current premises in Witvlei. The company is also still awaiting the outcome of a High Court case in which it has asked for the 2014 Norway allocation of beef export to be declared unconstitutional.

Martin says the current unfair and imbalanced allocation of the beef export quota to the lucrative Norwegian market leaves Witvlei Meat no other option but to approach the Norwegian government directly. “We are doing this to ensure the long-term survival of competitors or new entrants and to ensure the development of competitive industries in both Namibia and Botswana to ensure an equal playing field for all,” he stresses.

Martin confirms that he, Managing Director of Witvlei Meat, Hendri Badenhorst and the Human Resource Manager, Ricky Bezuidenhoudt, have via their Norwegian partners, Nortura established the high-level discussions with the Norwegian government about the possibility of splitting the quota equally between all Namibian qualifying participants. Nortura is the biggest importer of Namibian beef and possesses a stake holding of some 70 percent of the Norwegian beef market. “The Norwegian quota does not belong to Namibia it belongs to Norway and was created with one thing in mind, and that was to ensure the long-term survival of all Namibian participants by making sure they all reap the benefits associated with the quota. This has for a long time clearly not been the case as it has become obvious that only Meatco has benefitted all these years, and with the new allocation it looks like we are heading back to a monopolistic system with Meatco enjoying the lion’s share of the quota and all the benefits while a private company like Witvlei Meat suffers and is ignored largely by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in its quest for an equal playing field,” Martin laments.

Martin says the visit to Norway was also prompted by the fact that, according to him, the Namibian MTI has not kept its word about protecting foreign investors investments in Namibia. “This must be brought to the attention of the Norwegian government as Witvlei Meat has various foreign investors like Nortura and South African investors who desperately want to see their investments enjoying protection. This is clearly not the case as any foreigner who is prepared to bring N$250 000 into the country is regarded as an investor by the MTI and the shacks they put up are protected while a company like Witvlei Meat who ploughs back some N$4 million a week into the Omaheke region’s communities, don’t enjoy the same protection as these so-called investors or a company like Meatco who has a 30 percent Government shareholding,” Martin fumes.

Martin is also of the opinion that Meatco is abusing its position to consolidate the industry into the monopoly that it once was. “I sincerely hope it is not government’s strategy to consolidate the meat industry and eliminate competition.”

Before his departure for Norway, Martin also wrote a letter to the Meat Board, and the ministries of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and MTI asking if it is the strategy of the MAWF and MTI to exclude Witvlei Meat from the meat industry, and whether it is the deliberate intention of the two ministries to eliminate Witvlei Meat.

Source : New Era