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SACU- EU trade negotiations to resume

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

SACU- EU trade negotiations to resume

Stalled negotiations for an economic partnership agreement (EPA) – between the European Union (EU) and members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) plus Mozambique and Angola – were expected to resume next month with a new conclusion target date of July, the Department of Trade and Industry said. The agreement, which missed its December deadline, is already overdue by more than three years and has left some companies in limbo regarding their products’ access to EU markets. The 27-member EU bloc is SA’s largest trading partner. Xavier Carim, deputy director-general in international trade at the South African Department of Trade and Industry, confirmed that Lesotho was expected to host the next round of talks. However, the EU Commission responsible for concluding the EPAs in Africa has failed to respond to certain proposals from the southern African group, including the list of agricultural products the region wants exempt from tariffs. Experts argue that rather than allowing the negotiations to stall due to entrenched positions, African negotiators should bring other matters to the negotiating table, such as cooperation on food safety and green technology – options the EU would favour and fund. […] The South African agricultural business sector is lobbying for the government to push for more agro- processed goods to be allowed in the EU. At the moment, only certain products can be exported to the region.

Source: tralac