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EU-SADC EPA: Deal to enhance regional integration and economic development

Reporter: Angelo Coppola 丨 CCTV.com

06-14-2016 15:16 BJT

Following more than ten years of negotiation and two years of technical fine tuning, the European Union and six Southern African countries, signed an Economic Partnership Agreement in Botswana. The deal seeks to build on an existing 60-billion-Euro-a-year trade relationship.

The Economic Partnership Agreement covers Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa, and is known as the SADC EPA, despite including only six of SADC's 15 member states. The upside for those countries is expected to be substantial, individually and regionally.

"You can have a fruit, let's say you get a fruit that gets picked in Swaziland, and can get processed in Lesotho and then can be exported to the EU, without having the normal rules of origin applying to this," said Asmita Parshotam, SA Institute of International Affairs.

"And that's a big benefit because that will help industries to develop within the region. Not being bound by having a product only coming from a country, has to be processed in that country. So there can be sharing of that sort of behavior within the countries themselves."

Meanwhile there's a separate agreement with South Africa. Several agricultural products are expected to benefit, including wine, sugar, ethanol, several dairy products and flowers. Another area that's been resolved are the geographical indicators, particular to South Africa like champagne is particular to France.

Parshotam also said, "So the same thing, like Karoo lamb, honey bush tea, rooiboos, those are now geographical indicators to South Africa's advantage, so you can't have another company marketing rooiboos, if it's not from South Africa."

While this progress is good news, one has to focus on the bigger picture. That trilateral free trade agreement area, which has slowed down and if it has to get back on track, it has to happen quickly because at the moment, intra African trade, on average is around 11 percent.

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