- Namibia is the top African fishing country by production value and exports. The fish industry is the country’s second export earner of foreign currency after mining.
The Namibian | 06.10.2011
EU angers Government
By: JO-MARÉ DUDDY
GOVERNMENT is furious after a hush-hush decision by the European Union (EU) to close its duty- and quota-free markets to Namibian beef, fish and grapes by 2014 unless the country signs a controversial trade pact.
“This is not the way to go,” Trade and Industry Minister Hage Geingob reacted from Washington yesterday.
“This is not a partnership. By setting an arbitrary deadline the EU is trying to put pressure on us to sign the economic partnership agreement,” Geingob told The Namibian.
European Commissioner (EC) Trade Commission Karel De Gucht met with Government in Windhoek on September 13, without mentioning a word about the 2014 ultimatum.
Last Friday, barely two weeks after the meeting, the EC however adopted a proposal to amend the Market Access Regulation of 2007. This agreement has been governing EU imports from the 36 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries involved in negotiating economic partnership agreements (EPAs). A total of 18 ACP countries are yet to sign the agreement.
Namibia provisionally initialled the interim EPA in December 2007, but has refused to sign it unless issues regarding unfair competition are resolved.
In terms of the EC decision, Namibia will lose its lucrative market to the 27 EU countries by January 2014 if it doesn’t sign the EPA.
“Four years of application [of the regulation] has provided enough breathing space for ratification or further negotiation [of the EPA],” the EC says in a document posted on its website.
“The 18 countries which would be withdrawn from the Market Access Regulation have a choice: whether to go ahead and establish a partnership with the EU or not,” the document states.
Geingob yesterday said he was “disappointed” with the EC’s latest decision.
“There must first be progress in action regarding the outstanding issues before a deadline can be set,” he said.
Geingob has been critical of the EU’s decision-making without knowing their partners throughout the EPA negotiations.
In 2009 he lashed out, saying: “You cannot smoke cigars in boardrooms in Brussels and bulldoze us.’’