WINDHOEK – Namibia could soon export its first batch of beef and fish products to the People’s Republic of China if Chinese quality control inspectors are satisfied Namibian meat makes the grade.
Namibian beef and fish products are likely to meet the criteria for Chinese quality control inspectors because for years Namibia has been exporting beef and fish to European Union (EU) markets, where it presently has a huge annual meat quota worth hundreds of millions.
A Chinese delegation from the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) is currently in the country to inspect the quality of Namibian beef and fish.
China and Nami-bia signed an animal health and quarantine pact last year, an agreement through which Namibia can export meat, fish and other aquatic animal products, as well as agricultural goods to China. An inspection of Namibia’s abattoirs and fish processing plants by Chinese health inspectors has been the only step pending, for the agreement to take effect.
The Chinese delegation is in the country for two weeks and is expected to tour major fish and meat processing facilities.
The team of beef experts will visit the Okahandja abattoir, Oshakati abattoir, Meatco and industry role players such as the Meat Board of Namibia.
Another team of fishery experts will visit fish processing facilities in Walvis Bay and Lüderitz, after a short briefing in Windhoek.
This emerged when the delegation paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, in Windhoek yesterday.
Mutorwa said that the visit follows an agreement signed between the Namibian government and China in animal health and quarantine last year, in order to facilitate trade in meat, fish and other aquatic animals and their products.
Mutorwa further said that the main objectives of the agreement, among others, are: the facilitation of cooperation between the competent authorities responsible for animal health and quarantine, to promote and facilitate the mutual beneficial trade in meat, fish and aquatic animal products between the two countries, and promote the export of beef, mutton and lamb, fish, and other aquatic animals and their products from Namibia to China.
“The agreement states that the first phase of this agreement’s implementation would commence once Chinese experts from AQSIQ undertake a mission to Namibia to conduct audits of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s Directorate of Veterinary Services and Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources as the competent authority for animal health and for fish and aquatic animal health respectively,” Mutorwa elaborated.
The team inspecting the meat industry will be hosted by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, while a Chinese fish and aquatic animal products team will be hosted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and reps from Namibia’s fishing industry.
Mutorwa told the Chinese experts that Namibia has among the best meat and fishery products in the world, which are certified free of hormones and undesirable chemical residues.
“Our meat has been exported to markets in Europe for the past 15 years. We also have strong and competent veterinary services in the country, which have demonstrated its capability to prevent and control animal diseases in the country,” he assured the Chinese delegation.
On his part, the Ambassador-designate of China to Namibia, Xin Shunkang, said that meat and fish trade between the two countries is his “priority task” because China knows the importance of “this business”. He added that both countries are faced with pressure, but need to iron out difficulties between Namibia and China to allow for smooth trade.