Namibia on Monday transported the first 21 tonnes of beef to China the world’s largest consumer market, New Era Live reported.
The country became the first African nation to export beef to People’s Republic of China and this could be an important market for Namibia as it imports 6.5 million tonnes of beef, 250,000 tonnes of mutton, 2.3 million tonnes of pork and 1.7 million tonnes of chicken per annum.
In 2016, Namibia and China signed a milestone agreement that would see A-grade beef enter the massive Asian market, making it the only country in Africa to export beef to that country.
“Namibia and China continue to enjoy cordial bilateral political and diplomatic relations,” said Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Alpheus ǀGou-ǃna ǃNaruseb, speaking at the send –off ceremony underlining that the first consignment is irrefutable proof that the relationship between China and Namibia is one of give and take and is mutually beneficial.
“Relations between the two countries date back to the years of the struggle for the liberation and political independence of Namibia when the government of China took a bold decision to provide all round political and material support to Swapo the ruling party.”
Namibia since as far as 2005 has been in the process of obtaining access to the Chinese market for its beef products. A final memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in March last year.
The first agreement on animal health and quarantine was signed in China, Beijing in 2011.
In January 2016, the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) from China visited Meatco to conduct an audit on the facilities.
However, from 2016 in the first half of 2017, the country (Namibia) experienced lumpy skin disease outbreak in the Foot and Mouth (FMD) –free zone, notably the Otjozondjupa, Kunene and Omaheke regions. Outbreaks caused the negotiations to stall.
Meatco Board chairperson Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun on her part said, the entity and the nation at large are excited about entering into an alternative market.
“Despite the challenging times producers are faced with, such as the economy and recurring drought, we would like to commend you the producers for providing us with quality produce,” she said.
Speaking at the same accession Chinese Embassy Charge d’Affaires Yang Jun confirmed Namibia is the only African country to export beef to China.
“This Namibian beef is of high quality,” he said, adding the export of beef to China is set to further open other potential avenues for business and trade.
The event was also attended by Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Tjekero Tweya.
In recent years, China-Namibia bilateral trade has gained greater momentum. According to Namibia Statistics Agency, China became the biggest importer (18 percent) of Namibia products in 2018.
Based on China Customs statistics, the total bilateral trade volume in the whole year of 2018 exceeded 800 million US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 45 percent, which was more than double the growth rate of overall trade with Africa.
It was more than 33 percentage points higher than the overall growth rate of Chinese foreign trade in the same period. Among them, China imported 500 million U.S. dollars from Namibia, up nearly 70 percent year-on-year; exported to Namibia about 300 million U.S. dollars, up 19 percent year-on-year.