/ 31 October 2007

SA meat exports to EU under threat

The European Union is threatening to ban the import of South African animal products because the government has failed to meet certain requirements agreed on five years ago, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Wednesday.

The ban — if enforced — would cover South African beef, mutton, pork, chicken, ostrich and game products, as well as milk and honey, DA agriculture spokesperson Kraai van Niekerk said in a statement.

No one was immediately available at the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs on Wednesday afternoon to confirm whether a ban was imminent.

”The European Union is threatening to place a ban on all animal products exported from South Africa to Europe as of today [Wednesday] because the Department of Agriculture is not complying with certain requirements as agreed upon in 2002.

”It seems as if South Africa will now have to pay the price of the Agriculture Department’s inability to act both timeously and in the interests of commercial farmers,” Van Niekerk said.

Negotiations between the department and the EU have been going on since 2002.

”The department, however, clearly did not take the EU’s requirements very seriously, as they did not comply with them and are now faced with a situation where urgent action is required on very short notice.

”It is ironic that the EU had to remind the department on October 22 of the fact that if South Africa does not start complying with the requirements, it will place a ban on all South African exports as of October 31.

”The department is currently in a flurry as it attempts to get an extension on this deadline,” Van Niekerk said. — Sapa