SADC scrambles to meet EU trade deadline


Trade ministers from South African Development Community (SADC) have met in Gaborone (Botswana) on 20th May 2013 to establish a common position on the new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) ahead of next year’s deadline. The economies of Botswana and Namibia will be the region’s biggest losers when the EU revises the preferential trade scheme. But other countries like Kenya, Ghana or Cameroon will be losing their privileged access to the EU Markets as well. 


The EU is pushing African countries to end the preferential access to European markets and bring into force the EPAs which provide for reciprocal trade agreements. This reciprocal system implies that not only the EU provides duty free-access for African exports, but African countries also provide duty free-access to their markets.


 SADC is negotiating a deal, which ensures that the interests of all member states are taken care of. The EU is a key market for many commodities coming from South African Countries. The loss of preferential access to the EU market would be a blow to different sectors i.e. the meat sector. For this reason, negotiations must include additional protection measures on infant industries and rules of origin.


The need to establish final EPAs and to comply with World Trade Organization rules is pushing non-Less Developed Countries (LDC), like Botswana, to negotiate reciprocal EPAs with the EU. The negotiations are especially complex because full EPAs extend beyond trade in goods and include trade in services, investment, government procurement, intellectual property rights and competition.


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