Namibia has become the first African country to export red meat to the United States, following nearly two decades of negotiations.
The state-owned meat firm Meatco sent a shipment of 25 tonnes of beef to Philadelphia on Wednesday, and the Southern African nation is set to export 860 tonnes of various beef cuts in 2020 to the United States, rising to 5,000 tonnes by 2025.
“We’re able to finally export meat to the lucrative and big U.S. market,” Namibia’s minister of international relations, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said.
The United States is the world’s biggest red meat consumer as Americans consume on average 120 kgs of meat per person, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Namibia’s first commercial consignment came after samples were sent in the past 24 months to U.S. laboratories for tests. Negotiations over safety regulations and logistics have spanned 18 years.
Under the deal, exports will include boneless, raw beef cuts in frozen or chilled form.
“Namibia will benefit economically from tapping into the largest consumer market with purchasing power of $13 trillion, and U.S. consumers will benefit from access to Namibia’s high-quality, free-range, grass-fed beef,” U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said.
In 2019, Namibia exported about 12,400 metric tonnes of meat to Norway, Britain, the European Union and Chinese markets.
Agriculture contributes about 5% to Namibia’s economy but farming including cattle raising contributes to nearly two-thirds of the population’s income.
Namibia’s exports will also benefit from a duty-free regime under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).