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Namibia: Hopes for EPA negotiations in September

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Monday, 05 August 2013

Namibia: Hopes for EPA negotiations in September

During his visit in Namibia on 17 July, the European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, requested an improved offer from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) negotiating team that he could present to EU member states in order to be able to move closer to finalization the protracted negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are negotiating a regional EPA with the EU as part of the SADC EPA Group, which also includes Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland.An official of the Namibian government noted that while some progress has been made in negotiations, the ideal situation would be for Namibia to negotiate a win-win agreement. Namibia is looking towards the next round of negotiations in September this year as a last opportunity to resolve outstanding issues. However, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, at the forefront of the talks, says Namibia will only sign an agreement in the long-term interest of the country.
According to De Gucht, the EU has already expressed its readiness to offer measures for the protection of infant industries, as well as food security safeguards. He said that EU wants local industries to benefit from the trade agreement and to create added value and jobs.
Faced with the threat of loss of preferential market access into the EU market at the end of December 2007, many ACP countries signed the interim EPAs. However, Namibia opted not to sign an interim EPA given that the country’s negotiators identified outstanding issues that would have eroded policy space.
Trade between the EU and Namibia has grown at a rate of more than 200 percent over the past ten years, and in 2012 it reached a total value of 2 billion Euros.
"It goes without saying that the conclusion of the EPA is key for our trade relations. Namibia currently enjoys free access to the EU market. Namibian products, if industrial or agricultural, do not pay duties at the EU’s borders and are not subject to quotas. But this regime is based on a temporary instrument, which will end on 1 October 2014," explained De Gucht. Namibia (which is not considered a least developed country would not be eligible for preferential treatment for its exports to the EU after October 2014 8the deadline for the signing of the trade agreement), unless it ratifies an EPA.

Source: www.bilaterals.org