Namibia is preparing measures to protect its beef exports to Europe, as part of its Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, against the possible repercussions of Brexit.
Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, says the measures include exploring new and direct markets among the current European Union (EU) member states. The bulk of Namibian premium beef enters the EU market via the United Kingdom (UK). However, the Namibian government fears that with the Brexit uncertainty, particularly regarding customs arrangements, beef exports could be limited or go through a cumbersome process of EU import regulations and protocols all over again.
The ministry is now targeting individual EU member states, such as Portugal, for direct market access, he said.
According to Tweya, “We are, especially myself, praying on a daily basis that things should go right. I would not want to hear or experience that Namibian products, especially beef, has landed in Amsterdam destined for the United Kingdom and suddenly they say ‘Sorry, we do not have any agreement with your country’. It is going to be a serious disappointment. Therefore, it is our responsibility to already look for alternative markets so that in the event that no trade agreements are signed, Namibia does not sit with products that do not have a market.
Given Namibia’s climatic conditions and the impact on beef production, the capacity to serve additional markets could be another hurdle. The EU receives over 9,000 tonnes of Namibian beef together with Norway and the UK.
“We want to make sure that the markets are opened but what is most important to note, especially with international markets, is that they go through a rigorous process with their laws and protocols. Thus, Namibia needs to start these negotiations well in advance so that by the time climate changes in our favour, we will be able to deliver,” says Minister Tweya.
The Namibian government previously pinned its hopes on the removal of the Veterinary Cordon Fence to capacitate and allow farmers north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence to contribute to the overall production and exports.
The EU’s Ambassador to Namibia, Janna Hybaskova, agrees that Brexit could cause difficulties for export-reliant economies doing business with the EU.
"We strongly advise Meatco to move out of the EU because Brexit is going to happen. The company needs to be established throughout the rest of Europe, be it in Paris or Frankfurt. Therefore, my strong advice would be to move their European representation from London to some other capital within Europe,” says Hybaskova.
Additionally, Hybaskova advices Namibia to diversify its meat products that could enter the premium EU market.
Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya