WINDHOEK – Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming confirmed yesterday that no meat has been exported to that country, despite the fact that a moratorium on beef export to that country was lifted in February.
Zhang confirmed that the reason for this inactivity was that Namibia does not have enough beef to cater for the massive beef-eating Chinese market.
He said this while briefing the media on the upcoming China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit slated for the first week of September. President Hage Geingob and 50 other African heads of states are expected to participate in the summit.
In 2016, Namibia and China signed a milestone agreement that would have seen A-grade Namibian beef enter the massive Asian market, making it the only country in Africa to export beef to that country.
President Hage Geingob last month suggested the removal of the red line in the northern part of the country for the maximum Namibia’s beef benefits to be realised.
“Our beef is demanded. But we don’t have beef. We just talk about beef, but we don’t have enough cattle. We have to open up the Red Line so we can have more beef,” Nampa quoted Geingob as saying.
Among other outspoken critics of the fence is former agriculture minister John Mutorwa.
When asked if talk of the red line’s removal was just rhetoric, the President said: “The opening of the red line is not a question of whether you want it or not. It is a question of a health situation, about our other markets.
“Unless you also address the other side in Angola; cattle are moving freely… if the Angolan cattle are not treated, they will bring the diseases. But it’s a thing we must address.”
Zhang yesterday hailed Namibia-China bilateral trade, saying trade between the two countries last year stood at a total value of N$578 billion, making China, Namibia’s single biggest export market overtaking South Africa.
“This year, which has marked 30 percent compared to last year, we are more optimistic to see that the latest statistics show China in the first quarter this year exceeded your traditional partner South Africa to become your biggest export partner,” he said.
According to the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA), Namibian exports to China grew by an astounding 79 percent compared to the previous quarter, while exports to neighbouring South Africa only increased by a meagre two percent.