By Emma Kakololo
The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) on Friday came out in support of the Namibian Government’s decision to initial the Interim Economic Agreement (IEPA) with the European Union (EU).
Namibia at the outset, as well as South Africa, had refused to initial the interim accord over four clauses they disagreed with.
The countries were against the EC’s continued insistence on a clause for SADC EPA states to immediately freeze any new measures concerning the use of export taxes or levies; its non-acceptance of the SADC EPA’s proposal for infant industry protection, based on the current Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and SADC Trade Protocol provisions; and the EC insistence on a non-negotiable demand for a provision to ensure free movement of goods within the eight SADC EPA states.
Namibia’s refusal was met by outcry from the beef and grape industries, which were set to lose about N$700 million in export revenues to the EU. Exports to the EU beyond 2007 were to be subjected to levies and tariffs as high as 95 percent compared to the current quota duty-free access.
Last week, Namibia agreed to the IEPA on condition that its concerns with the EPAs are addressed through further negotiations, a move that brought relief to the agricultural sector.
“Negotiations between the Namibian Government and the EU were at times very difficult. However, the fact that the IEPA was initialed indicates a strong determination on both sides for reaching a sustainable agreement,” said the President of NAU Raimar von Hase.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the Namibian Government for its recognition of the importance of the beef sector and also thank the EU for their continued support of Namibia,” he added.
He urged farmers to take advantage of the “excellent” marketing opportunity, and produce more quality beef.
“It is of utmost importance that the existing Namibian abattoir facilities will be fully utilised and the current trend of a decline in inland slaughtering be reversed.”
By initialling the IEPA, the Government has facilitated the unhindered continuation of exports of prime beef, as well as benefits from the new arrangement of duty- and quota-free access to the EU.
It is envisaged that in the foreseeable future, bone-in Namibian lamb would be added to Namibian meat exports.