The SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

enters into force

Mosa Mkhize– Mosa is the International  Affairs Manager at SASA

The SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has been provisionally entered into force, marking the beginning of a new era for trade for all the involved parties.

Following the conclusion of the protracted negotiations that lasted for more than ten years, the South African Development Community (SADC)–European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provisionally entered into force on 10 October. This after the SADC EPA Group (comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) and the EU finalised their due ratification processes that were prerequisites for implementation. 

In short, the EPA enables SADC EPA member states the opportunity to export agricultural and industrial products to the EU on a preferential basis. In return, the EU has access to the SADC market under relaxed terms of trade for various products. This milestone therefore signifies the beginning of a new era between the partners as they seek to promote regional integration and broaden inter-bloc economic cooperation, which are some of the objectives of the EPA.

A new era

For South Africa and the EU, the entering into force of the EPA replaces the trade provisions of the bilateral Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). The EPA can be considered to be an improvement of the TDCA to the extent that South Africa will have increased access into the EU market for sugar, wine, ethanol, flowers, fresh fruits, some dairy products, fruit juice, canned fruit and yeast amongst others. 

Some of the benefits that will be derived by South Africa and the EU include the EU protecting 105 of South Africa’s Geographical Indications (GIs). These include 102 wine lines and three agricultural product names, namely Rooibos, Honeybush and Karoo Lamb. South Africa will protect 253 of the EU’s GIs, which consist of 120 wine lines, 7 beers, 22 spirits, and 104 agricultural product names (special meats, cheeses, olives etc).

EU Market access for sugar

New agriculture market access (including sugar) will enter into force from 1 November this year, following the EU and South Africa exchanging letters to confirm the protection of each other’s GIs. From then, South Africa will have duty-free access for 150 000 tons of sugar into the EU (on a pro-rata basis for the rest of 2016). The provisional entering into force, both SADC and EU member states, are sure to reap the benefits that have been secured through the EPA.