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EU-southern Africa trade partnerships come into effect

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EU-southern Africa trade partnerships come into effect

EPA - SADC signing - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - EU partnership agreements with five southern African countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland - came into effect Monday, starting a new chapter in their trade relations with the EU.

Mozambique is in the process of ratifying the agreement and will join in as soon as the ratification procedure is completed.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, who travelled to Botswana for the official signing in June, welcomed the new relationship: "The agreement that we're putting in place will support sustainable economic growth and regional integration in southern Africa and is designed to help lift people out of poverty in the years to come. Africa is the emerging continent and the Economic Partnership Agreements have been designed to maximise this dynamism," she said.

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a development-oriented agreement that takes into account the different levels of development of the partners.

It gives Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Swaziland immediate duty-free, quota-free access for their exports to the EU market.

South Africa also stands to benefit from enhanced market access, going beyond its existing bilateral arrangement with the EU.

The EPA provides for a number of protective measures in these countries, for instance for nascent, fragile industries or for food security reasons.

The agreement also increases the flexibility of southern African producers to put together products with components from various other countries, without the risk of losing their free access to the EU market.

The southern African markets will open only partially to EU exports, gradually over time, providing their industries with the intermediary goods they need to support growth

The SADC EPA Group consists of six out of 15 members of the Southern African Development Community (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa). Angola has observer status and may join the agreement in the future.

The EU is the largest trading partner of the SADC EPA group. In 2015, the EU imported goods worth almost €32 billion from the region, mostly minerals and metals. The EU exported goods of nearly the same value, consisting mostly of engineering, automotive and chemical products. Total trade between the EU and the SADC EPA Group (including Angola) amounts to €63 billion.

In signing the agreement, participants commit to act towards sustainable development, including upholding social and environmental standards. Civil society will have a special role in monitoring the impact of the agreement. The Agreement is also of a new species in that it is the first trade deal that directly supports the economic integration of a specific region, favouring closer links within the six Southern African nations involved.

The EPA creates joint institutions to support dialogue, smooth handling of all trade issues, and monitoring of the impact of the trade deal. The EU will work with its SADC partners to ensure smooth implementation of the agreement, together with regional and national development cooperation bodies.

The SADC EPA

Text of the agreement


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