The European Union (EU) and five Southern African Development Community (SADC) states will meet in Botswana in May 2016 to sign the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which has taken at least 10 years to complete.
According to Botswana’s Trade and Industry Ministry, the date for formalizing the Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed during talks in Brussels. Botswana’s Trade and Industry Ministry confirmed the future date of signature as October 23rd. Botswana chairs the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement group, which also includes Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Negotiations between EU and SADC states on the EPA started in 2004. While an interim agreement was signed by some regional states in June 2009, a full accord was only reached in July last year.
An earlier update by the European Commission released in October highlighted that the value of imports, which consisted mostly of industrial products including commodities, from the SADC-EPA Group into the EU amounted to Ôé¼32.5 billion whereas EU exports to the region amounted to Ôé¼31.8 billion. The update described the SADC-EPA as a solid building block that will further enhance regional integration. It also recognized the oldest existing customs union, Southern African Customs Union (SACU) which comprises of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. It highlighted that imports coming from the EU will be subject to a single external tariff.
The European Commission disclosed that in future Angola may join the SADC-EPA Group. Overall, the SADC-EPA agreement, as it is commonly expounded, offers immense opportunities that include improved market access, better trading terms and the promotion of sustainable development.