December 20, 2004
High Beef, Fish Export Standards in Namibia
Exports standards in southern Africa, from where the European Union (EU) imports large consignments of beef and fish, are high, according to a top EU health official. The EU imposes tough sanitary and phytosanitary conditions on imports from southern African.
According to Michael Scannell, the head of a unit in the European Commission's health and consumer protection directorate in Brussels, Namibian beef and fish export standards were also very high.
"Standards in southern Africa are quite high," he added. Scannell said this while explaining the EU import procedures last week. "We need the imports, but we cannot import without our standards", said Scannell, explaining the import control which has been described in certain quarters as rigid. Scannell says keeping high standards helps southern African countries add value to beef and fish exports.
Regarding the concern that southern African countries may end up spending more money on meeting EU standards than the revenue they derive from these exports, Scannell protested that this objection was devoid of any truth. He explained that the requirement by the EU that beef and fish products can be traced to their specific place of origin only applied to producers like Meatco and fishing companies and not to farmers or fishermen. He explained that the so-called "farm to table" requirements were not extra-territorial.
"It is not as complicated as some people want it to be", he said. He, however, agreed that southern African countries could find it difficult to export goods to the EU. "Standards in application are barriers, but this is not their intention. It's a bit catch 22."
The EU has since 2001 been supporting the African, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) countries to help them meet EU sanitary and phyosanitary standards. A Euro 29 million pesticide programme was established three years ago. Furthermore, an ACP Euro 45 million fisheries programme is also in place.