The new British High Commissioner to Namibia, Charles Moore has commended the country’s meat processing company, Meatco, on its resilience and expressed hopes to further bolster ties with the corporation. Moore made these remarks when he and his delegation toured the Meatco facilities last week. This was part of Moore’s phase one strategy of listening and familiarising himself with the Namibian business environment in preparation for the four years he is assigned to the country.
“It is not in our interest to complicate the standing trade protocols you had with the EU when we were members of the bloc. We are very keen that the trade relationship now bilaterally with the UK should be strong if not stronger than before and I am very happy to work with Meatco,” Moore was quoted.
Moore, who toured Meatco’s meat processing plant and the Okapuka Feedlot, also complimented Meatco’s CEO, Mwilima Mushokabanji, for running a company he said is not just sustainable but also looking ahead strategically to address challenges that can be seen as well as those that cannot be seen. This, said Moore, is both a commendable social and economic position to take.
He also shared that the UK embassy recognises that Brexit and the UK’s departure from the EU have caused various challenges for many of their trading relationships and are keen to address these challenges as soon as possible.
On his part, Mushokabanji laid out several proposals to Moore for consideration to ensure the further easing of trade restrictions and to create a conducive trade partnership between the two states now that Brexit took full effect starting 2021.
Among the issues Mushokabanji asked to be addressed, are the challenges Meatco is experiencing with re-importing into the UK under the current rules of origin (RoO), which were formulated before these latest developments were implemented. He said the RoO hampers contracts with manufacturers, especially those in Poland, concerning processed brisket that was previously shipped back to the UK when it formed part of the EU.
According to Mushokabanji, manufacturers are not allowed to operate this way anymore because once Meatco’s beef is cleared in the EU, it cannot be re-exported to the UK, causing major value-chain disruptions.
He further revealed that although there are mechanisms, such as the Inward Processing Relief, these still attract reduced duty and are very complicated.
Hence, he said Meatco’s customers are not keen to be troubled with these extra complexities, have opted to stop purchasing Namibian beef, and replace it with EU beef material instead. However, he added this remains an issue for all suppliers to that country and not just those in Namibia.
Furthermore, among others Mushokabanji requested Moore’s support in the relaxation of standards for bone-in beef exports through the European Free Safety Authority from the Free-Zone of Namibia to the UK.
The UK Trade Policy Advisor for Southern Africa, Charles Morris, and the Global Trade Programme Advisor, Kyllikkie Hamutumwa accompanied Moore. - Adapted from Meatco website