August 22, 2017 / 5:13 PM / in 3 months

China considers reviewing Namibian beef deal to ease restrictions

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - China is considering reviewing a beef import agreement with Namibia, the country’s ambassador to Namibia Zhang Yiming said on Tuesday, raising the possibility that restrictions could be eased.

A 2015 import agreement between Windhoek and Beijing stipulates that beef from Namibia must come from areas that are free of disease, including bovine pleuropneumonia (lung sickness), Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

Namibia had expected to start exporting bone-in beef to China last year, making it the only African country allowed to export beef to the country, but an outbreak of LSD in July last year halted that.

Local media reports suggested last year that Windhoek might have blundered by agreeing to China’s conditions regarding LSD as the country might never be able to meet that requirement since it suffers from sporadic outbreaks of the disease.

Zhang told reporters in Windhoek on Tuesday that his country was prepared to renegotiate the text of the agreement.

“Our embassy has already sent a report back to Beijing requesting a technical team to come to Namibia so that we can renegotiate this agreement to make it more flexible,” the Ambassador said.

LSD is transmitted through insect bites and can take up to six months to heal.

Exports to China can only start after a 12 month disease-free period.

Namibia currently exports its beef to many countries, including the European Union and Norway.

Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; editing by Susan Thomas

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