India concerned at South Africa suspending buffalo meat imports
Johannesburg: India on Monday voiced concern to South Africa at the suspension of frozen boneless buffalo meat imports from the country. Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, that the imports be looked into as Indian meat conforms to the highest international norms and standards, said an official.
After granting market access to deboned frozen boneless buffalo meat by approving one abattoir-cum-meat processing unit in Maharashtra in January, 2011, South Africa suspended imports in May 2011. Both ministers here reviewed the India-South African Custom Union (SACU) Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) negotiations and agreed on the need for its early finalisation.
Both sides have instructed their officials to meet and thrash out the differences. Sources said the South African Customs Union (SACU), where member countries have to engage in a time-consuming process of consultation on tariff request lists, is one of the reasons for trade with India not moving faster.
Sharma urged Davies to expedite SACU's response to India's proposal of average Margin of Preference (MOP) in the PTA so that the two countries can finalise the tariff lists and take the negotiations forward. Besides South Africa, SACU, the world's oldest customs union established in 1910, is made up of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.
India and South Africa are currently well placed to reach the bilateral trade target of $15 billion well before the deadline of 2014. Two-way trade rose to $13.65 billion in 2011 from $10.53 billion in 2010. Both countries, members of the BRICS grouping, also agreed to coordinate stances on World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues.