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Conclusion of the negotiations on the EU-SADC EPA
04/08/14
Conclusion of the negotiations on the European Union - Southern African Development Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-SADC EPA)
Conclusion of the negotiations on the EU-SADC EPA

 Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is concluded. The agreement was initialed by the Chief Negotiators on 15 July 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa.

SADC EPA Group consists of seven (7) SADC Members States out of the total of fifteen (15). Basically it is constituted by the five (5) Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) members plus Angola and Mozambique.

The Republic of Botswana is the Coordinator of the SADC EPA Group at Ministerial level while the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade is the Lead Negotiator for the SADC EPA Group Senior Officials in their engagement with the EU.

     Since 2007, after initialing the Interim EPA and subsequently signing it in 2009.  SADC EPA group has been engaged in an intensive process of negotiations towards a final and inclusive (since some SACU Member States, namely Namibia and South Africa had not signed the Interim EPA) EPA that would create a stable and reciprocal, but nevertheless asymmetrical, trading relationship between us and the EU.

The timing of the conclusion of these negotiations is significant as it pre-empts the 1st October 2014 deadline imposed by the EU after which the Republics of Botswana and Namibia, and the Kingdom of Swaziland would have lost preferential access to the EU market for their exports (mainly beef for Botswana). The EU has assured us that the act of initialing the EPA ensures that there will be no interruption of trade and market access for our exports to their market until the agreement enters into force.


 BENEFITS OF THE AGREEMENT
 The following are some of the gains we have managed to get from the negotiations of the EPA which will be of great benefit to the economy:
  

  1.  most important of all is that Botswana exports will be able to  access the EU market duty free quota free (DFQF), that is, market forces permitting, we can export as much of our produce to the EU market as we can (both industrial and agricultural goods);
  2. secondly, the EPA has managed to preserve the Common                External Tariff (CET) which binds the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) together as all Member States have initialed the agreement and will, in all likelihood, proceed to sign and ratify it;
  3. the EPA has very flexible Rules of Origin (ROOs) which will   
      facilitate intra-regional trade and industrialization across Africa;
  4. we have also managed to negotiate very flexible terms for Export Taxes. This was one of the long-standing sticky unresolved issues preventing conclusion of the EPA;
  5. in addition, we also managed to get agreement from the EU  that they will eliminate export subsidies on agricultural goods destined for the SACU market;
  6. we also managed to restore a safeguard safety-net for BLNS (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland) sensitive products which had previously been liberalized and reduced to zero tariffs under the Trade, Development, and Cooperation Agreement between South Africa and the EU which the BLNS were de facto implementing in SACU. In this way, we will be able to respond to damaging surges of EU imports into our market by taking these safeguard measures; and
  7. last but not least, we also managed to get the EU to allow us the policy-space to be able to institute general agricultural safeguard measures to address damaging surges of imports from the EU.


WAY FOWARD

 Going forward, the Agreement will be subject to legal scrubbing by the SADC EPA and the EU parties.
 Thereafter, each state party will subject the agreement to national consultations before seeking the necessary approvals to sign and subsequently ratify the agreement.
 It is anticipated that all these processes will take approximately six months for the Republic of Botswana and between 8 and 12 months for those with the most tedious processes within the Group.


All inquiries and requests for clarity should be referred to the Chief Negotiator in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Phazha Butale, on telephone number 3601260 or email address tpbutale@gov.bw

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