|SADC states take different routes to EPA negotiations|
|Thursday, 10 June 2010 09:58|
SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) member states have taken different platforms in negotiating for their engagement with the European Union for the implementation of the full Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
This follows a recent engagement meeting between SADC's Ministers of Trade and Industry and Economic Development with the European Union in Brussels aimed at mapping the way forward for the implementation of EPA agreements.|
According to conclusions reached at the Brussels meeting of SADC and EU, interim EPAs have been completed with Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa while Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe are currently negotiating EPAs through other regional groupings.
While other countries are moving towards inking the final EPA agreement, Namibia which was represented by Trade Minister Hage Geingob, remains adamant about its position not to sign the agreement until the EU comes clean on the outstanding issues including the protection of infant industries.
The interim EA includes exemption of duty quotas and duties for SADC imports to Europe, the commitment by the EU to Foster trade within the region and help and help exporters to meet EU import standards.
The different negotiating paths by the region's states on EPA come barely two months after the Minister of Trade and Industry in Namibia Hage Geingob lashed out at the continued bully tactics employed by the EU in dealing with the region.
Geingob said the country is stuck between engaging the trade agreement and protecting primary industries in Namibia saying EPA might curtail growth in the country's small industries.
The latest review from the Brussels meeting shows that Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana are pressing for their issues with the European union through the SADC-EPA group while the other states in the region are pushing their debate on other platforms.
European remains the largest trading partner with regional powerhouse SA while it also imports heavily from Botswana - diamonds, Namibia - fish and beef, Swaziland - sugar and Mozambique - aluminium.