China, whose market of 1.3 billion people could become the largest beef market in the world, is keen and could “very soon” start importing free-range beef from Namibia despite the Asian economic giant initially expressing concerns of sporadic outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in beef-producing regions in Namibia.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Namibia, Xin Shunkang, said a team of technical and health inspectors dispatched by his country to Namibia despite its earlier concerns of foot-and-mouth disease is satisfied Namibia prescribes to stringent health requirements for beef processed for both domestic and far-flung export markets.
Speaking in an interview last Friday, Ambassador Xin said after the Chinese team’s visits what remains is for the two countries to clear the last barriers in what were lengthy talks by putting signature to the final bilateral trade documents.
“The two sides are hard at work,” he said in reference to negotiators finalising the final agreement and ironing out what he termed “technical issues” that would culminate in Namibia having access to the lucrative Chinese beef market. Namibia currently exports beef to the European Union (EU), Norwegian markets and South Africa, and talks are also underway to penetrate the Russian market.
Xin was upbeat that Namibian beef will very soon be available in select Chinese restaurants and supermarkets.
One of the issues under scrutiny is the issue of the port through which Namibian beef will enter China.
When asked if Chinese consumers have specific preferences when it came to particular portions of beef, the ambassador remarked, “Chinese people like Namibian beef, the meat here is very tasty because the cattle are freely raised, but different people have different tastes.”
He also hinted that once Namibia enters the Chinese beef market there are other export opportunities that could open for the southern African nation if it expands its export permit to include other products such as game meat, which Namibia produces in abundance. Other products that could be commercially exploited are Namibian curios and other artefacts that the Chinese like.
“In future we can talk about other Namibian products. Namibian handcrafts, and leather products are also very popular among visiting Chinese delegations,” he said.
The ambassador extraordinary, who expressed satisfaction with the excellent bilateral relations existing between Namibia and China, also pointed out to one striking similarity that both countries have specific interest in the development of their road infrastructure, which in turn improves living standards.
On the current bilateral exchanges, the People’s Republic of China last year alone sponsored 300 Namibians who went to China on party-to-party, government-to-government agreement for training on human capacity development programmes in the fields of education, agriculture, information and military, among others.