18 Jul 2013 07:30
WINDHOEK, 18 JUL (NAMPA) ? The European Union (EU) is no longer exporting agricultural products which are subsidised.
?We are not exporting subsidised products that are linked to production any more,? the European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht told the local media here on Tuesday after meeting Prime Minister Hage Geingob, Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schelttwein and members of the business community.
The only subsidy still in place is the so called 'Green Box' subsidies as income support for agriculture.
In order to qualify for the 'Green Box', a subsidy must not distort trade, or, at most, cause minimal distortion.
These subsidies have to be government-funded (not by charging consumers high prices) and must not involve price support.
There is an agreement that no subsidy will apply to all liberalised products through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The subsidisation of agricultural products issue was amongst the outstanding issues which concerns Namibia in the EPA negotiations.
?We are not exchanging agricultural subsidies anymore. It will not be possible, not even in future. We have made a commitment that all liberalised products in EPAs will not be subsidised,? said de Gucht.
In response, Trade and Industry Ministry Permanent Secretary Malan Lindeque said they have understood it slightly differently, but are now very pleased that there is confirmation that agricultural products subject to liberalisation in EPAs will not be subsidised.
?The important thing now is how to correctly reflect that confirmation in the legal text that we are negotiating, and that is something to come during the negotiations,? he said.
Lindeque indicated that there is confirmation that even if the regime has changed in the European Union, the farmers (or agricultural persons as they are referred to) have a huge head-start in terms of means of production, technology and market access compared to developing countries' emerging and small farmers, whose situation always needs to be handled with sensitivity.
De Gucht further said that in the course of the EPA negotiations, the EU has often listened to Namibia?s suggestions and concerns, such as during the Swakopmund talks in 2009.
?I believe the EU has already shown that we are ready to adjust our offer in a balanced manner that should reflect major Namibian interests,? he said.
For example, De Gucht said, the EU is ready to offer full free access to its market and accept that Namibia will open its market far less to European products.
?We are listening to Namibia's concerns about how to deal with European goods entering Namibia's markets at lower tariffs. Here, the EU has already expressed that it is ready to offer measures for infant industries and food security safeguards,? he stated.
?I have also discussed Namibian requests for derogation from the Rules of Origin for the benefit of the fishing industry. I am, therefore, positive that we will be able to come to a satisfactory outcome.
This is a good example of what we want to achieve with the Economic Partnership Agreement - we want Namibia's local industries to benefit and to create added value and jobs,? he indicated.