Following conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and SADC last year, the two parties are said to be an advance stage to have it signed.
At a recent meeting held between Botswana’s Trade Minister, Vincent Seretse who is also Coordinator of the SADC EPA Group, and his counterpart in the European Union, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, the two parties recognised the vast amount of work done thus far, namely negotiation of the agreement and the ongoing legal scrubbing of the agreement. The SADC EPA group consists of seven SADC member states out of 15.
It constitutes of the five Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) member states of Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa, plus Mozambique and Angola.?A press statement sent by the Trade Ministry on Thursday noted that both Minister Seretse and the Commissioner reiterated their full commitment to conclusion of the process leading to the signature, ratification, and subsequently entry into force of the EPA.
Also on the Agenda was conclusion of the processes towards the signing and ratification of the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the upcoming World Trade Organisation 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and other trade issues of mutual interest to the two parties. The Commissioner did mention that the EU has set aside funds to assist SADC states in implementing the EPA upon its entry into force.
She also indicated that Botswana was eligible to benefit to the tune of Euro 2.6million and urged Botswana to come up with proposals to motivate for the release of the funding. The Minister and the Commissioner indicated their sincere hope and commitment that the Nairobi Conference will come up with meaningful outcomes relating to the post-Bali work programme of the remaining Doha Development Agenda issues (inter alia on agriculture) in the form of a political decision which will allow the technical negotiators to come up with agreements thereafter.
Minister Seretse indicated to his counterpart that the Republic of Botswana had, as recently as last week, ratified the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF). Commissioner Malmstrom on her side indicated that the internal EU processes leading to ratification of the WTO ATF were at an advanced state all EU member states and they hope to have concluded them by the time of the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi at the end of the year 2015.
With regard to technical and other assistance for developing and least-developed countries in relation to the implementation of the WTO ATF, Commissioner Malmstrom stated that the EU had set aside the sum of Euro 400million to assist.