Yesterday (10 October) five southern African countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland - and the EU strengthened their bilateral trade relations with the entry into effect of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). From now on exports from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland will enjoy duty- and quota-free access to the EU market. Mozambique is also in the process of ratifying the agreement.
EPAs are an important part of the EU’s African development agenda. The agreements are asymmetrical, meaning that the EU offers disproportionately more access to its market than the African states do to their markets, reflecting the economic disparity between the partners. For more information please see: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3338_en.htm
David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland and International Trade Spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats group, said:
“This EPA offers a major opportunity for six southern African states to enhance their trading relationships with the EU, which will help develop their markets and create jobs. This development-focused deal also contains specific clauses allowing these countries to protect infant industries and some sensitive goods. It should boost southern African industry and entrepreneurship whilst enhancing regional integration.
Economic development goes hand in hand with social progress, and this EPA also has a trade and sustainable development chapter with provisions promoting human rights as well as labour and environmental protection. Thanks to pressure from the Socialist and Democrats group, the Commission has also committed to strengthening the role of civil society and NGOs in the implementation and monitoring process. This is something that we will be keeping a close eye on in the coming weeks, months and years.”