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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Progress in SA-EU negotiations

The deadlock in trade negotiations between the EU and South Africa that threatened to break the world's oldest customs union, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), is set to ease off, thanks to progress being made in ironing out differences between the two parties. The Head of Delegation of the EU in Botswana, Paul Malin said he was confident SACU would stay intact after the EU softened its stance and agreed to apply a common tariff to its exports to the region. This was the contentious issue that led to a breakdown in negotiations when South Africa insisted on a Common External Tariff for the southern African region in spite of its separate trade agreement with the EU-Trade, Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). "In principle, we have agreed to harmonise the TDCA and the interim Economic Partnership Agreement so that a common tariff can apply to the whole region", Malin said. "What is left now is to just formalise this and I believe the process should be completed by early next year. However, there are still other issues, such as the Rules of Origin, which might need a bit more time to solve as they might have political connotations as well". Botswana, along with Swaziland, Lesetho and Mozambique, has initialled the interim EPA, while South Africa, Angola and Namibia have remained on the sidelines.

Source: Mmegi Online