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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

SADC: EPA negotiations on backburner

Negotiations for a new economic partnership agreement (EPA) between SADC members and the European Union appear to have been shelved with no fixed date for resumption of the protracted trade negotiations. The Southern Times understands that talks between SADC countries and the EU for a new trade deal are on the backburner, with both parties shifting focus to pressing domestic economic and trade issues. The SADC and EU negotiating teams last met in November 2010 in Mozambique. Instead, the Southern Africa bloc seems more concerned with talks on coalescing SADC, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa into what has become known as the trilateral free trade area (T-FTA). The T-FTA brings together 26 countries with a combined gross domestic product of US$624 billion and a population of approximately 700 million. The T-FTA is in line with continental ambitions to deepen and widen integration and trade opportunities from Cape to Cairo. The EU is grappling with its sovereign debt crisis, which analysts say could spiral out of control. The European bloc also has to contend with a market squeeze induced by the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). Namibia's Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila last month hinted that negotiations for a new trade deal with the EU could be concluded in July, something trade analysts say looks increasingly unrealistic.

Source: Trade Law Centre for South Africa