He confirmed that the Veterinary Services of the two countries are currently locked in negotiations which started last December to discuss the proposed revised importations of livestock and products regulations.
As the negotiations are at a formative stage he could not say much on the progress being made.
Meat Board of Namibia Manager: Trade & Strategic Marketing, Goliath Tujendapi said that the new import permit system the South African Veterinary Department wants to impose on Namibia “will make it virtually impossible for Namibia to trade with RSA”.
“The Namibia meat industry’s desire is to maintain the trade relationship with RSA as RSA is Namibia’s biggest market. All those sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS issue need to be agreed first between the two countries to facilitate trade,” he suggested.
He further confirmed that the matter has been taken up by the South African and Namibian meat industry who are set to meet around 27 January to brainstorm on the road ahead.
Last year South African meat producers in response to the meat labeling scandal have expressed the need for regulation throughout the meat production, packaging and retailing industry.
Fingers have been point in the labeling scam at wholesalers, unscrupulous importers and a lack of government intervention.
Speaking to a red meat consumer’s debate in Paarl, Western Cape, last year head of the National Consumer Forum, Imraahn Ismail-Mukaddam was quoted as saying “South Africa has become a dumping ground (for) unscrupulous meat importers”.
According to him the bulk of the labeling problem does lie not with local abattoirs, but with “legislative loopholes when it comes to importing, where it becomes near impossible to ensure the integrity of products.”
Another South African environmental health practitioner Christa Hugo was quoted as saying that the industry adopts the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP), a system developed by NASA to regulate food safety.
Hugo said, “This would help bring South African standards in line with Europe and would ensure 90 percent of the industry is better regulated.”
However, anonymous sources in the meat industry expressed concerns over the cost of implementing such a system in South Africa and by extension Namibia.
They are of the opinion that that there was an unequal situation when it comes to exporting meat versus importing in South Africa, saying there was a massive “trade barrier” especially from Europe.
“We are being bullied by Europe when it comes to exporting agricultural goods, but there aren’t as strict regulations when it comes to products coming into our countries.”
According to the sources there are bulk frozen meats coming in unregulated from Australia and New Zealand.
South Africa’s attempts to protect its meat industry from cheap imports from Europe and other developed nations, now appears to spell danger for Namibia’s industry which depend mostly on SA for its exports.
Since January last year, due to the high price of maize and the drought in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa have slaughtered unusually high numbers of animals while it also transpired that record numbers of animals from Namibia were imported by South Africa since March 2012.
A record number of 260,765 head of cattle were imported by South Africa from Namibia since January 2013 compared to 68,196 in the corresponding period in 2012, which represents a dramatic increase of 282% in imports of live cattle by South Africa from its neighbor.