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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Farmers Want EU Door Wide Open

There is still a chance to improve access to the European Union (EU) for SA 's agricultural products, before an economic partnership agreement for southern Africa is concluded this year, says trade and industry deputy director-general Xavier Carim. The agricultural business sector is lobbying hard for the government not to miss the chance to push for the total opening up of the highly regulated EU market, not only for SA but for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). In the talks, the 27-member EU, SA's largest trading partner, is speaking as a unit to the various African economic regions, while the African regions are forced to speak to the EU as single entities. The sticking point is that the EU is uncompromising in treating SA differently from the rest of the community because of the strength of its economy. Mr Herbital Maluleke, international trade intelligence manager at the Agricultural Business Chamber , says the most contentious issues yet to be resolved involve the alignment of market access, tariffs and rules of origin, as well as a most favoured nation clause. The clause is a special level of status given to a strategic partner country by another on trade issues.