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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Namibia: Grape farmers panic over EPA delay

Grape farmers from the Karas Region of Namibia have expressed concern over the inconclusive European Union (EU) economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations for Namibia.
Their position paper on the EPA was presented at the national consultation meeting on the EPA negotiations.
The farmers warned that if the EPA is not signed, the grape industry would “die a sudden death,” as they will not be able to compete against zero-rated tax status producers such as Chile, South Africa and Peru, and would subsequently lose the EU market to them. “There are no alternative market opportunities to compensate for that,” the farmers added.
The representatives explained that the bulk of the grapes - equivalent to 89,83% - is exported to the EU markets, compared to only 5,3% to African countries,  Russia (2,3%), Far East (1,47%) and Middle East (1,1%). Both the US and Far East markets were said to be  un-accessible to Namibian grape farmers.
“Strict SPS regulations are prohibitive for Namibian grape products. There are long-standing bilateral negotiations on this issue with US, and there is no indication that they will succeed in the near future,” the farmers said.
A deadline of 1 October 2014 applies to ACP countries that have not yet signed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with the EU. The representative of the sector foresee an average loss of 28% , in case customs tariffs are imposed.
It  is not within Namibia’s power alone to conclude the negotiations as the country is negotiating as part of an economic bloc under the legal obligations of the SACU treaty.

Source: The Namibian