Uncertainty continues to cast a pall over Namibia's fledgling poultry industry, with questions emerging over whether or not government has gazetted the infant industry protection for the industry.
Local independent importers of poultry products are holding their breath as they wait to see how precisely the protection measures will affect their business.
South African poultry companies that import poultry products into Namibia have come out strongly against the protection measures. Namibia joins Zimbabwe, which has completely banned poultry products from South Africa.
South African poultry companies that export poultry products within SADC are suggesting that SADC considers banning products from outside the region, instead of putting up restrictions within the regional trade block.
"This will support growth and sustainability within SADC," Jack Searle, managing director of Supreme Poultry told New Era. Supreme Poultry is a subsidiary of South Africa's biggest poultry company Country Bird Holdings (CBH), which is on record that poultry imports from Latin America into the region impacted negatively on its sales volumes.
"Cheap and poor quality imports from outside the SADC region are placing local producers under severe pressure, compounded by abnormally high poultry feed prices. SADC should consider imposing a ban on imported chicken from outside the SADC region to balance trade and achieve food security for the region," said Searle.
In its annual report, CBH reported that imports from Latin America "now account for roughly 17 percent of all sales" during 2011 and "export volumes were lower in Namibia" and other markets in southern Africa partly as a result of that.
Namibia's infant industry protection for poultry, according to Supreme Poultry, would impact the export of chicken to Namibia from South Africa and that is why it is important for SADC to impose a ban on poultry imports from countries outside the SADC region. That, said Searle, would prevent the region from becoming a dumping ground for poultry products from outside the region.
"Zimbabwe has closed its border to poultry products from South Africa due to avian influenza found in ostriches in the Western Cape in South Africa. However, Zimbabwe imports hatching eggs from South Africa, which pose an even greater threat to Zimbabwe than processed poultry products," said Searle.
According to Searle, this is just another way in which local industry protection disguised in a different format can lead to unfair trade. Namibia has agreed, in principle, to impose an infant industry protection levy on imported poultry products, since the opening of the country's first mass poultry production plant by Namib Poultry Industry (NPI) earlier this year.
The levy is yet to be gazetted. It is believed that the levy will be in place for eight years with an initial 46 percent from the first year until the fourth year.
The levy will then be reduced gradually to 30 percent before it comes down to 20 percent in the final two years of the eight-year period.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has yet to respond to detailed questions posed nearly a month ago.