Trade News - October 2012

Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)


The European Parliament has begun discussing the ratification of the interim EPA with Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe, the only four countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa formation to have signed the interim EPA in 2009 and then completed the ratification earlier this year. Now it is the turn of the EU to ratify the agreement. A first draft report will be presented to the Trade Committee of the European Parliament in November. Given that the four countries have signaled their interest in EPAs and there is not much interest in the issue in the European Parliament, approval is likely to be swift and unproblematic.


Eastern African Community (EAC)


Ugandan parliamentarians and civil society organisations met for a two-day forum on trade liberalisation. They concluded that Uganda would best benefit if it does not sign the agreement. “As Members of Parliament, we shall not allowto sign agreements which do not benefit the country. Let’s be very careful when signing agreements that promote unfair competition in trade,” said Stephen Mukitale Birahwa Chairperson Parliamentary Committee on National Economy. Jane Nalunga the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute (SEATINI) Uganda Country director said Ugandans should not have high expectations of EPAs.

“Our standards still have issues. Our markets are within us. We do not need European market. It is like expecting chicken to give you milk,” said Nalunga.

She said that despite negotiating for the last 10 years many states had still failed to sign the EPAs. “What are we signing? Do we need to sign EPAs to get skills development?” she asked.


West Africa (ECOWAS)


The European Union (EU) has recently been busy rebuffing claims that the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the West African region and Nigeria will undermine the region’s nascent manufacturing sector. Various pan-African experts on global trade have warned African nations not to sign the agreement, which they believe will stunt the development of the industrial sector of the region. At the same time the EU Head of Delegation to ECOWAS also pointed out again that negotiations cannot go on indefinitely. As the negotiations for a regional EPA are progressing very slowly, Ghana is again considering out aloud signing the interim EPA it initialled with the EU in 2007.



Southern Africa (SADC)


Recent trade statistics show the non-Diamond Trading Company exports from Botswana to the EU amounting to 1.1 billion Pula in 2011. Botswana is one of the African countries most concerned about the EPA deadline and most hoping for a postponement of it[1]. A sudden imposition of import tariffs by the EU would rob local exporters of their competitiveness in the EU, raising the extreme possibility of closures and redundancies. Due to the recently approved GSP reform[2], Botswana would no longer even be able to benefit from this alternative to duty free/quota free access to the European market.



Thomas Lazzeri

[1] See also Trade News - September 2012 at

[2] See also Trade News - June/July 2012 at

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