Tuesday, December 1, 2020

BRICS won’t crack EU-SADC trade relationship

Trade between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is not threatened by BRICS ÔÇô the relatively new trading bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the EU has revealed.

Head of the EU Delegation to Botswana and SADC, Gerard McGovern, told The Sunday Standard that all opportunities to grow international trade are welcome.

“It contributes to economic growth and ultimately, for example, to more jobs. EU trade is more in niche markets often with high end technology and services,” he said.

SADC exports minerals and agricultural products to the EU while the latter exports equipment, chemicals and machinery to the region with annual trade totalling P800 billion.

For the EU-SADC trade relationship to survive the times, it will largely depend on SADC’s willingness to open up more to the EU.

That will entail improving the doing business environment and growing its small fragmented market, which the EU, itself a five-decade product of regional integration, believes would be stronger with more regional economic integration.

“EU consumer standards are demanding and competition is high. Knowledge of each other’s markets and trade rules [is important]. SADC-EU trade dwarfs intra-SADC trade. The EU is supporting SADC with a view to boosting trade within the Southern African region,” says McGovern.

Ten days ago, the EU availed Ôé¼20 million funding to SADC which is expected to go towards Regional Economic Integration Support programme.

The EU says funding for the programme, which becomes effective beginning next month, supports SADC’s efforts to reduce poverty through promoting accelerated economic growth and development in the region and by encouraging deeper levels of regional economic integration and political cooperation.

The package is aimed at building expertise and capacity in the understaffed SADC Secretariat as well as in regional public and private sector bodies.

“There are essentially four pillars to the programme. These are: improving the doing business and investment climate and strengthening the SADC payments system and cross border tax related matters, removing technical barriers to trade and addressing sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirement, supporting the SADC-EU Economic Partnership negotiations, regulatory environment and full implementation of a new agreement and further developing SADC management capacity and institutional strengthening,” so says McGovern.

The EU desires increased regional economic integration in SADC, sharing of information on standards and legislative frameworks, improving doing business environment in SADC, investment in and infrastructure to reduce transport costs within SADC would lead to increased trade between the two sides.

The trade volume between the EU and SADC accounts for Ôé¼40 billion annually in both directions.

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The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.