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Thursday, 17 September 2009

South Africa - European Union summit

Positive signs emerged from last week’s summit between SA and the European Union at Kleinmond that they could be closer to resolving their differences about an economic partnership agreement (EPA) between the EU and the southern African regional community.The EPA is expected to improve the terms of trade between southern African countries and the EU and strengthen regional integration, in line with the formation of other regional trading blocs. But aligning the interests of economies at different stages of development has proven difficult. Last week’s summit took place while SA and its Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) partners were at odds on signing an EPA with the EU. SA, which has a trade, development and co-operation agreement with the EU, has refused to sign an EPA because of dissent on certain issues, although some of the other members of Sacu have signed. The issue is expected to be on the agenda of the Sacu council meeting in Swaziland on Thursday and Friday. In a briefing note ahead of the summit, South African Institute of International Affairs researcher Romy Chevallier said that the EU was the Southern African Development Community’s biggest trading partner. In 2006 the EU exported about 4,5bn of goods, mainly agricultural and primary products, to the region while it imported 2,8bn of goods, mainly diamonds, petroleum, fish, beef and sugar.

Source: Business Day