THE European Parliament approved has an agreement granting duty-free access to the EU for products from Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, and improved market access for South Africa.
‘This agreement will help our African partner states to reduce poverty and can also facilitate their smooth and gradual integration into the world economy. There are also many safeguards in the deal to ensure that local people truly benefit from this cooperation. The language on human rights and sustainable development is one of the strongest that you will find in any EU agreement,’ said rapporteur Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, before the vote.
The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with six member states of the South African Development Community (SADC) establishes a ‘positive discrimination,’ ensuring immediate duty- and quota-free access for their exports to the EU market. It also creates new regional opportunities through more flexible use of rules of origin.
The African countries will liberalise 86 percent of their trade with the EU (Mozambique 74 percent) over 10 years with the exception of agricultural and fishery products. The deal replaces the previous interim agreements based on unilateral trade preferences and complies with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
While the agreement covers only trade and development co-operation, it leaves the door open for services, investment, intellectual property and public procurement. To mitigate potential negative impacts on the Sadc countries, several safeguards were added to the deal. The EU undertook not to subsidize its agricultural exports to these countries.
The deal also lists trade-related areas that could benefit from EU development co-operation funding, but none is pledged at this stage.