Sadc-Eu Economic Partnership Agreement (Epa)

Rules of origin determine which products qualify for trade preferences. In the SADC EPA, they were formulated in such a way as to make it much easier for SADC EPA countries to benefit from reduced EU tariffs. The textile industry, for example, benefits in countries such as South Africa or Lesotho, which depend on imported products. In addition, it is the first agreement allowing the EU to benefit from agricultural export subsidies. Improved trade opportunities for goods: The EPA guarantees duty- and quota-free access to the EU market for Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. South Africa benefits from new market access compared to the EU-South Africa Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), which currently governs trade relations with the EU until October 2016 (when the EPA entered into force provisionally, thus eliminating the trade component of the TDCA). The new access includes better trading conditions, particularly in the agriculture and fisheries sector, notably for wine, sugar, fishery products, flowers and fruit cans. The EU will benefit from significant new access to the Southern African Customs Union (wheat, barley, cheese, meat products and butter) and will be guaranteed a bilateral agreement with Mozambique, one of the least developed countries in the region. Under the SADC EPA, the EU will grant 100% free access to its market to Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. The EU has also eliminated some or all tariffs on 98.7% of imports from South Africa. SADC-EPA states are not required to respond with the same degree of market openness. Instead, they can maintain tariffs on products that are sensitive to international competition.

This is sometimes referred to as asymmetric liberalisation. The South African Customs Union (SACU) only deed about 86% of imports from the EU. Outside the EPAs, the EU has never accepted such a degree of asymmetry in a free trade agreement. The agreement covers next-generation issues, such as intellectual property rights, competition and investment, and public procurement. The parties have agreed to cooperate on these issues and may consider negotiations in the future. If agreements are negotiated in the future, they must be compatible with the SADC regional framework. WpA is based on the Cotonou Agreement of 2000. The provisions of the Cotonou Agreement on human rights, sustainable development and dialogue, with the participation of parliaments and civil society, continue to apply. As such, the EPA offers one of the broadest protections of human rights and sustainable development available in EU agreements.

The EPO also contains a large number of “safety measures” or safety valves. EPA countries can activate them and increase import duties if imports from the EU increase so sharply or so rapidly that they threaten to disrupt domestic production. The agreement has no less than five bilateral safeguard measures, one of which is not replicated in any other EU trade agreement. In addition, if the EU applies a protective measure in accordance with WTO rules, the EU will offer its EPA partners a 5-year renewable waiver from its application, which will allow SADC EPA countries to continue exporting. These trade rules are based on a detailed development chapter, which identifies trade-related areas that could benefit from increased financing and support. As with all modern agreements, the EPA contains a chapter on sustainable development. The parties undertake their obligations under international conventions and undertake to comply with their environmental and labour laws. Development-oriented: The EPO provides asymmetric access to SADC-EPA group partners. They can protect sensitive products from full liberalisation and safeguard measures can be used if imports from the EU increase too rapidly. A detailed development chapter identifies trade-related areas that are eligible for financing. The agreement also contains a chapter on sustainable development that covers social and environmental issues.

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