Namibia in 11th hour bid to halt RSA new export requirements
WINDHOEK – Namibia is engaged in high-profile bilateral discussions with South Africa in a bid to convince the South African authorities to postpone and possibly amend the implementation of stringent health requirements for the export of livestock to South Africa.
The new requirements are scheduled to come into force tomorrow, May 1. Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, confirmed the new development yesterday, saying “discussions would continue in the remaining hours before South Africa implements the new requirements.”
If implemented, Namibian exporters of livestock and livestock products to South Africa would be required to provide individual identification for sheep, as well as proof of vaccination against anthrax at least 14 days, but not longer than 12 months, ahead of export. Also required would be proof of treatment against all internal and external parasites and proof of animals being from areas free of foot-and-mouth disease.
Mutorwa, who was in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday en-route to Addis Ababa for an AU meeting, stressed the seriousness of the looming deadline, saying the future of Namibian livestock exports were balancing on a knife-edge.
A high-level Namibian delegation led by the Department of Veterinary Services would lead the Namibian delegation to South Africa, which includes the Namibian Agricultural Union, to try to halt the requirements being implemented or to at least negotiate a postponement to allow Namibia some breathing space to make alternative contingency plans.
Mutorwa said the veterinary department of South Africa decided to “backtrack on a bilateral decision made on March 7 by both countries this year to relax health requirements of livestock imports from Namibia”.
Paul Strydom, the General Manager of the Meat Board and Mecki Schneider, Chairperson of the Livestock Producers Forum, told New Era the requirements would have devastating effects on the livestock export industry as the feeding lots, abattoirs and informal goat market in South Africa are of crucial importance for the existence of the local industry. Yesterday, the Meat Board was still trying desperately to stage a meeting with the South African meat industry.
Strydom said the SA authorities were informed of Namibia’s grievances regarding the requirements and the local industry was waiting with bated breath for feedback last night.
Mutorwa had already informed the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, about the possible devastating repercussions of the decision by South Africa.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water And Forestry Joseph Iita, said the implementation of the import permits “in its current form will result in the total cessation of livestock trade between the two countries,” and asked for further postponement.
A record number of 260 765 head of cattle were imported by South Africa from Namibia last year compared to 68 196 cattle in the corresponding period the previous year.
This represents a dramatic increase of 282 percent in imports of live cattle by South Africa, and although the increased imports are regarded as a direct result of last year’s drought, the increased number underlines the importance of South Africa as a life-giving export market for Namibians. Namibia also exported 252 710 goats and sheep to South Africa in 2013.
By Deon Schlechter
New Era Reporter
2014-04-30 08:20:29 5 years ago