Minister of Agriculture Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa and some captains of industry have expressed optimism to the gesture by China (Hong Kong) to allow Namibian meat to penetrate the Asian market saying the move will go a long way in creating an alternative market for the country while cementing long standing bilateral and trade engagements between the two countries.
Mutorwa also reckons that the reciprocal trade engagement between China and Namibia will go a long way in cementing South –South corporation and dent the monopoly enjoyed by the traditional European market in accessing African raw materials.
China is one of the heaviest investors in the Namibian economy and creams off billions in earnings from construction tenders while their low end produce find themselves on the Namibian shelves. The Chinese are also operating the country’s largest uranium mine, Husab Mine which is set to be the fourth largest mine upon completion.
Last released statistics also showed that Namibia exports to China excluding beef were at N$1.4 billion and the figure is expected to take a sharp rise with the opening of the Asian market.
“This is a good move and it will strengthen the relationship between Hong Kong and us, it is a great achievement breaking into other markets that other African countries have never entered before, therefore producers need to come forward and show efforts in getting the requirements needed to export beef to Hong Kong,” Mutorwa says.
The move by China also come amid complaints by many analyst that the Asian giant which is a beneficiary of African raw materials has been reluctant to open avenues for African countries to easily access their market in a bid to protect their infant industry.
“If I am a farmer and I hear that there is a school somewhere looking for people to sell fruits, I will go out of my way to go ask were the school is, producers always have excuses to produce the required products. If government makes a statement on something it is up to the companies to come forward and ask the government what it is about and not say we don’t know anything about it, it is their responsibilities to find out,” he says.
He, also adds that, “Namibian producers have always been complaining about how they don’t have another market to depend on for the exportation of beef, and now that we have made efforts to get them a suitable market their should bring their part.”
Corroborating Mutorwa’s sentiments Namibian Chamber of Commerce (NCCI) Chief Executive Officer Tarah Shaanika feels that the move could also broaden the market for Namibian in the future and also go a long way in also mentions that, “This is a good move for Namibia, this now means that the market destination are being diversified because we have been calling for diversification for a long time.”
Shaanika explains that, “We currently depend on the European Union (UN) and if problems occur with the current market we now have an alternative market that we can look to.”
He also encourages farmers to increase their grazing capacity to prepare the country for the demand that may come with exporting beef to Hong Kong.
Shaanika explains that, “The government is planning for the future, although we are currently facing drought in the country, I believe that in the future we will be able to export enough beef to foreign countries and supply to the local market when drought has settled, I see potential in the future.”
Meatco’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Advocate Vekuii Rukoro also feels that the new market in China has potential to improve earnings for local meat producers as they do not have to depend on one market.
“Any additional market is good for the country because, it means that we can diversify the market and we don’t have to rely on the current export destination. The sooner we can sort out the paper work the sooner we are able to trade and get good returns for our country.”
Rukoro says, Namibia getting the greenlight to export beef to Hong Kong will also open up an alternative market for the Namibian beef to be recognised on an international level.
According to reports, Namibia produces about 60 000 metric tons of beef products per annum and exports roughly 20 000 metric tons to South Africa and the European Union (EU).
However, the country can produce more meat by farmers increasing their grazing to make sure that there is enough cattle in the future to meet the demand that could come with growth.