April 26, 2013
Botswana's beef exports to EU may no longer be duty free
In case Botswana fails to meet the requirements of the 2009 Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by October next year, the country's beef exports to the EU may no longer enter the market duty free.
Minister of Agriculture, Christiaan De Graaff told a consultative forum for boards of parastatals at Sebele on Tuesday (Apr 23) that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ranks Botswana as a middle-income economy and failure to meet the requirements will result in the country competing with more developed beef exporting countries like Brazil and Australia.
The EPA with the EU gives Botswana the right to sell as much beef as it can produce in the EU market on a duty free, quota free basis. Though cattle producers in developed beef exporting countries like the US, Australia and Brazil have a supply side advantage over Botswana in terms of their superior production efficiency, their primary demand side constraint lack the preferential EU market access due to tariff and non-tariff barriers.
"The worst case scenario would be if the EPA with EU is not completed by the stipulated period and we now have to compete with developed countries for market of our beef," he said. The minister's comments come after the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) last week announced suspension of slaughter of cattle from veterinary disease control zones 4A and some parts of zone six following an inspection by a team of visiting EU inspectors.
Deputy Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Agriculture, Moetapele Letshwenyo, explained that the suspension is meant to forestall punitive action by the EU. He said the ministry imposed its own suspension to forestall the one coming from EU, which takes a long process to lift. He said they learnt through covert means that the EU was about to slap a suspension on Botswana beef imports because the inspectors had problems with the fact that the Francistown abattoir was sitting in a containment zone while cattle in Boteti area mix with buffaloes.
"They wanted to know why cattle destined to the EU are slaughtered in a containment zone," he said. He stated that the inspectors were alarmed by the disease (virus) traits that were discovered in the blood of goats that were slaughtered at the facility.