Economic partnership agreements (EPAs) are trade and development arrangements between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries designed to facilitate the ACPs’ integration into the world economy through gradual trade liberalisation and improved trade-related cooperation.
They are tailored to suit specific regional circumstances – and promote sustainable growth and poverty reduction through trade. They are set within the framework of the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement (Cotonou Agreement) governing relations between the EU and the ACP countries. Under the EPAs, EU markets are immediately and fully opened, while ACPs have 15 years to open to EU imports (with protection for sensitive imports) and even 25 years in exceptional cases.
The EPAs involve negotiations between the EU and 76 countries. Further information on the EPAs at the European Commission’s DG TRADE website
The European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have concluded an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to facilitate trade between both blocks.
All 28 EU member states are part of this EPA and it also includes the SADC EPA Group consists of seven (7) SADC Members States out of the total of fifteen (15): basically it is constituted by the five (5) Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) members plus Angola and Mozambique.
Botswana is the coordinator of the SADC EPA Group at Ministerial level.
Since 2007, after initialing the Interim EPA and subsequently signing it in 2009. SADC EPA group has been engaged in an intensive process of negotiations towards a final and inclusive (since some SACU Member States, namely Namibia and South Africa had not signed the Interim EPA) EPA that would create a stable and reciprocal, but nevertheless asymmetrical, trading relationship between us and the EU.
The timing of the conclusion of these negotiations follows the 1st October 2014 deadline imposed by the EU after which Botswana, Namibia, and Swaziland would have lost preferential access to the EU market for their exports. The initialing the EPA ensures that there will be no interruption of trade and market access for our exports to the EU market until the agreement enters into force.
Benefits of the Agreement
Some of the gains Botswana will get from this agreement are:
• the EPA preserves the Common External Tariff (CET) which binds the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) together as all Member States have initialed the agreement and will, in all likelihood, proceed to sign and ratify it;
• the EPA has very flexible Rules of Origin (ROOs) which will facilitate intra-regional trade and industrialization across Africa;
• there are very flexible terms for Export Taxes.
• the EU will eliminate export subsidies on agricultural goods destined for the SACU market;
• there is a safeguard safety-net for BLNS (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland) sensitive products which had previously been liberalized and reduced to zero tariffs under the Trade, Development, and Cooperation Agreement between South Africa and the EU which the BLNS were de facto implementing in SACU. In this way, you will be able to respond to damaging surges of EU imports into your market by taking these safeguard measures; and
• the EU allows the policy-space to be able to institute general agricultural safeguard measures to address damaging surges of imports from the EU.
Now, the EPA will be subject to legal scrubbing by the SADC EPA and the EU parties. Thereafter, each state party will subject the agreement to national consultations before seeking the necessary approvals to sign and subsequently ratify the agreement.
• Before you attempt to use any preference, the first step is to check the EU classification codes for your products – these codes contain key information on preferences.
• Once you have the correct Tariff classification for your goods and their destination, you can complete paperwork to ensure that the right rates of duty are paid.
• You should note that trade preferences can only been obtain f you fulfil the correspondent rules of origin.
• Check if your products benefit from the EPAs at My export.
• Check the European Commission’s page on EU trade relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
• Check the European Commission’s page on trade relations with the SADC region.
• Check the EU’s Overview of EPAs negotiations – state of play.
• Check statistics on trade between the EU and SADC.
• Check EU trade defence measures on imports from the SADC.