Yesterday (Wednesday) all aspects of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) became effective – but negotiations to improve market access and address certain trade constraints contained in the agreement are ongoing.
The EU-SADC EPA was signed in October last year and replaces the trade chapter in the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between South Africa and the EU. The TDCA did not include the SADC countries.
“The first meeting of the joint EPA Trade and Development Committee will take place next week where negotiations will continue,” said Niki Kruger, chief director: trade negotiations at the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
Speaking at a business breakfast arranged by the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), Kruger pointed out that the EPA had brought improved market access – particularly for agricultural, wine and fishery products – which the dti hopes will redress the current negative trade balance between South Africa and EU countries.
Negotiations around market access for certain shellfish products and certain clauses contained in the agreement - including, amongst others, standstill clause restrictions for tariff increases on goods that were excluded from liberalisation, safeguard provisions on tariffs and the elimination of export taxes – are ongoing.
Kruger pointed out that institutions would be established for the proper implementation of the EPA agreement and public awareness seminars would be held.