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Spanish debt crisis dents Nam fishing industry

Windhoek:  The on-going European debt crisis which has sucked in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain coupled with emerging cheaper standard products from Vietnam has created a dent on the Namibian fishing industry reducing export earnings. In an interview, Director of Policy Planning and Finance in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources, Anna Erastus, acknowledged the country’s fishing industry has been pushed to come up with a market diversification plan to deal with the low prices on the global scale and the Spanish debt crisis.
'What I can say now is that we have to diversify the market and try to move away from the traditional markets. It is also important to note that the industry is experiencing the problems emanating from the debt crisis in Spain,' said Erastus.

On average, Namibia exports about 70% of its fish products to Europe with Spain contributing a significant chunk of the European market.

As if the Spanish debt crisis has not been problem enough, Erastus said the firm exchange rate has also had its fair share of the bite into Namibian export cake. Erastus said the Euro-zone crisis has seen 30% of the prices on fish products shaded off thereby forcing the country to cast its eyes on other alternative markets.

First National Bank Senior Manager Research and Development, and renowned economic analyst, Daniel Motinga said it is difficult to sum up the on-going Euro debt crisis as a potential economic crisis but its implications will somehow be felt by the Namibian exporters. Motinga noted that it would be necessary to scrutinise the extent of damage that the Namibian fishing industry would incur from the on-going crisis in the Euro-zone countries.

'I think it is important to point out that debt crisis in Europe holds significant tail risk for the global economic recovery. As far as the impact on our fishing sector is concerned, one needs to ask the question to what extent will the financial challenges in the banking sector translate into weakened consumer demand in Spain to the extent that growth will suffer,' said Motinga.

He noted that there is a definite risk of contagion on the fish importers target cautioning that the risk of export earnings in the fishing industry and the export industry in general should not be over-emphasised.

'Therefore, I will be careful in characterising the European debt crisis as a global crisis. It is not likely to become one. It is difficult to speculate on the investment impact of the Spanish crisis at this point in time,' added Motinga.
Namibia exports a reasonable consignment of its products including fishing, products, beef and diamonds to the EU countries.

20 January 2011
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