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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Trade deal between EU and Southern Africa expected

There is growing optimism that the countries of Southern Africa are within months of concluding negotiations with the European Union on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) deal, after years of hesitant progress, the EU ambassador in Pretoria (South Africa), Roeland van de Geer, told IPS. “This could be the breakthrough year,” van de Geer added.
South Africa, while part of the African Caribbean Pacific group of countries, is not party to the same preferential trade arrangements granted to the African Caribbean Pacific countries (under the Cotonou Agreement), countries which are negotiating since 2002 the transition to the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
South Africa's trade relations and development co-operation with the European Union are governed by the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA). The TDCA established in 2004 a free trade area that covers 90% of bilateral trade between the EU and South Africa.
The ending of negotiations with the Southern African state could offer also an impetuous for the EU to also update its trade relations with South Africa, going further down the road of trade liberalisation, while also ensuring that there is a more coherent accord covering the Southern African region as a whole, IPS reports.
Van de Geer predicted that if there is a deal this year, it will boost South Africa’s access to the EU for fruit and vegetable products, some of which are excluded from the free trade provisions of the TDCA.
The negotiations between the EU and the Southern African states are currently very detailed, with product-by-product discussions. “We are also looking at other related issues, such as Geographic Indications (GIs),” Van de Geer added.

Source: IPS News