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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

SA among Sadc nations to initial EU trade pact

AFTER 10 years of negotiations, a regional Southern African Development Community (Sadc) group, of which South Africa is a part, has "initialled" an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), the Department of Trade and Industry said on Thursday.
This provides South Africa with marked benefits over the bilateral Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA) with the EU that came into force in 2004.
It improves EU market access to 32 South African agricultural products, with a significant improvement in the market for wine. The department said the agreement was initialled by chief negotiators on July 15 in Pretoria, meaning that all negotiations "are concluded".
South Africa is negotiating an EPA as part of a regional Sadc group including Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola.
"The timing is significant because it pre-empts the October 1 deadline imposed by the EU after which Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland would have lost preferential access to the EU market for their exports of beef, fish and sugar, on which their economies depend heavily," the department said last night. "The EU has assured us all that the act of initialling ensures that the current market access will continue until the agreement enters into force."
Axel Pougin de la Maisonneuve, head of the EU’s political, economic and trade section in South Africa, said the
28-member bloc "welcomes what we hope is the final stage in negotiations". He said the EPA had reached "technical" closure and now needed to be signed and ratified.