EU importers waiting for final EPA
A delegation from the European Commission (EC) visited Meatco’s Windhoek abattoir last week to learn first-hand how the meat processor, marketer and exporter operates on ground level.
Following the delegation’s visit, Meatco issued a statement this week saying the key focus was on adherence to international standards most notably, the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, and certification.
The visit by the commission comes a few months before the 01 October deadline for concluding the long-delayed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Namibia and the European Union. The absence of a ratified EPA is seen as a major threat to meat producers’ continued access to EU market.
The last round of negotiations between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group and the (EC) was held in Brussels, Belgium on 31 March 2014, spanning the course of two days. According to the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF) which attended the negotiations, the issue of export duties and agriculture safeguards have not been finalised and as such negotiations could not be concluded between the two parties.
“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.” Meatco said 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 exporters. The ATF reports that there were indications that there will be no further engagements between the SADC EPA Group and the EC. “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,” Rejoice Karita, the Senior Trade Advisor at the ATF reported.
She said a decision will be made shortly to indicate where the region stands with regard to the EPA.