Botswana to Enjoy European Parliament – Backed Trade Deal

Gaborone — The European Parliament has approved an agreement granting duty-free access to the European Union market for products from Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, and improved market access for South Africa.

A press release from Delegation of the European Union to Botswana says the agreement that Members of European Parliament (MEPs) approved, on Wednesday, by 417 votes to 216, with 66 abstentions “will help our African partner states to reduce poverty and can also facilitate their smooth and gradual integration into the world economy.”

The release also states that the EPA also creates new regional opportunities through more flexible use of rules of origin. Botswana has already ratified the Agreement and provisional application of the Agreement is expected to start early October 2016. The deal, as per the release, has several safeguards to ensure that local people truly benefit from the cooperation and to mitigate potential negative impacts on the SADC countries.

“The EU undertook not to subsidise its agricultural exports to these countries. The deal also lists trade-related areas that could benefit from EU development cooperation funding, but none is pledged at this stage,” says the release.

This EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement also creates new regional opportunities through more flexible use of rules of origin.

“The African countries will liberalise 86 per cent of their trade with the EU (Mozambique 74 per cent) over ten years with the exception of agricultural and fishery products,” says the release.

The deal, the release states, replaces the previous interim agreements based on unilateral trade preferences and complies with World Trade Organisation rules. While it covers only trade and development cooperation, the agreement leaves the door open for services, investment, intellectual property and public procurement.

In a July resolution, international trade MEPs advocated strengthening the monitoring of the agreement to ensure that “its benefits for the people are maximised”. In view of that, the release says the committee also tabled an oral question to the Commission for this plenary on parliamentary oversight and civil society monitoring.

“The deal will enter into force once the Council formally approves it and the national parliaments of the six African states ratify the text,” adds the release.

In the Cotonou Partnership Agreement of 2000, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU agreed to negotiate reciprocal, though asymmetric, trade agreements to comply with WTO rules.

Source : bopa

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