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Namibian table grape exporters fearful over lack of progress in EPA negotiations

August 14, 2013

In June 2013, according to The Namibian newspaper, Namibian table grape farmers warned that in the absence of an agreement to secure duty-free, quota-free access for Namibian table grape exports to the EU market, the Namibian table grape industry would die a sudden death as it would not be able to compete on the EU market with duty-free imports from Chile, South Africa and Peru. According to a position paper tabled by Namibian table grape producers at a national consultation on the EPA negotiations, there are no alternative market opportunities available, given the specificity of the Namibian grape trade into the EU and the strict US sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations applied to Namibian table grapes.

At present, 89.83% of Namibian table grape exports are destined for the EU market, compared to 5.3% exported to African markets, 2.3% to the Russian market, 1.47% exported to Far Eastern markets and 1.1% exported to Middle Eastern markets. Namibia exports a total of 25,966 tonnes of table grapes, with a final sales value of N$500 million (38.55m). Current plans to expand table grape production, however, could double this trade. The Namibian table grape industry employs 3,000 permanent and 4,500 seasonal workers.

Without duty-free access, farmers say they will be forced [to] pay customs duties of between N$10 and N$12 [0.770.93] to export one 4.5 kg grape carton. A 4-year survey confirmed that farmers were making an average return on investment of between N$7.09 and N$8.80 per carton. With the new customs duties envisaged, farmers foresee an average loss of 28% if the EU reimposes import duties. The farmers maintain that the private sector will not be able to invest under such conditions (i.e. the possible loss of duty-free access from 1 October 2014).