SACU, Norway in beef talks

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Mpho Tebele 

Gaborone – Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Marianne Hagen, has said her country is currently negotiating a beef trade deal with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Hagen, who was in Gaborone recently, revealed that a final decision on the outcome of the negotiations would be reached in summer this year. 

She said Norway and Botswana, including SACU, have had good profitable relations.

She also revealed that Norway was negotiating with SACU for some other possible trade agreements, which Botswana was likely to benefit from. 

“We both need rules based on international trade order for us to be able to export and import because we are both small economies,” Hagen said. 

President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who also had a meeting with Hagen, told her that Botswana was ready to increase beef quota trade. 

“It is our wish to grow our most edible product, beef. This is in relation to the need for youth employment,” he said.

According to Masisi, the government is ready to allocate small stock farms mainly to the youth knowing that there is guaranteed market. 

“In as much as this effort is aimed at creating employment, Botswana is keen to increase the value of the product, so that we can do part processing, according to the dictates of the market and ship straight to Norway. Furthermore, Botswana would like to diversify its agricultural base,” said Masisi.

He said Botswana, as well as SACU, needed to work on maximising profitability of their exports, especially beef. 

Masisi said should Norway work with Botswana, there would be a possibility of increasing the value of meat products. Botswana, he said, would be in a position to diversify meat agricultural products to mutton and goat meat for export.

He said he is waiting with bated breath for Norway to give Botswana some motivation to grow and diversify beef products to be exported to that country. 

A few years ago, Botswana and Namibia held meetings with officials from Norway to discuss SACU Generalised System of Preference and the Free Trade Area beef quota review.

The joint ministerial meetings discussed issues and developments in the agricultural sector in Norway, which may have a possible negative impact on the Botswana-Namibia beef quota. Norway is currently reviewing its agricultural support framework with a view to opening up its market for global competition.

This initiative could have a negative impact on Botswana and Namibia’s beef exports and there is a need for serious consultations to ensure that the SACU market is protected.

Norway provides an annual quota of 2,700 tonnes of quota-free beef imports from SACU most of which is from Botswana and Namibia.

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