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SPS constraints on post-drought restocking raise concerns in Namibia

Drought conditions in Namibia led to a rapid expansion of live cattle exports from January to September 2013. Some 222,206 cattle were exported live on the hoof to South Africa and Angola, while Meatco, the main Namibian meat processing company, slaughtered 98,392 cattle and other abattoirs slaughtered 34,286 cattle.

Fully 62.6% of all cattle marketed were sold on the hoof. With an increase in the number of cattle coming to market before pasture conditions deteriorated further, Namibian and South African markets were flooded with cattle and meat, leading to price declines on both markets.

Beyond South Africa, a lively trade in meat and cattle is emerging with Angola, Zambia and the DRC.

According to a Meatco representative, the impact of live cattle exports will affect the whole cattle and slaughter industry for the next three years, as Namibian farmers have exported too many cattle and kept too few cattle for restocking and herd building. According to national press sources, it is predicted that there will be limited calves, few weaners, limited stores and few slaughter oxen up to 2016. The restocking situation will be compounded by South Africas current Foot and Mouth Disease status, meaning that Namibian borders are closed to live cattle imports from South Africa. Scope exists for restocking from some parts of Botswana that enjoy equivalent health status to that of Namibia south of the veterinary control fence. However, beyond these zones, opportunities for restocking from African herds without losing Namibias current disease status are non-existent.

An EU review of the beef sector shows that since 2010, Namibian beef exports to the EU have fallen to the EU by 35.9%, while Botswana beef exports to the EU have fallen by 97%. This has taken the ACP share of total EU beef imports from 7.74% in 2010 to 3% in 2012. In contrast, exports between 2009 and 2012 from countries utilising the new high-quality beef quota increased by 116% in the case of the USA and by 24.8% in the case of Australia. Latin American exporters from the Mercosur group accounted for almost 75% of EU beef imports.