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Supporting Economic Development in Southern Africa – German Government Backs EU Economic Partnership Agreement with SADC

By The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany - Windhoek
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On 27th April 2016, the German Federal Cabinet approved the signing of the Economic PartnershipAgreement (EPA) of the European Union with the SADC member states.

The Agreement will guarantee permanent tax and quota free access to the European market forproducts from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. South Africa, as the mostdeveloped country in the region, will receive extended market access to the European market. Inreturn, the above mentioned countries are supposed to open their markets for about 80% ofEuropean products over the course of 12 years. As already practiced in other EPAs, products thatare locally produced or have added value for the local economy, will remain permanently protected.

As an additional protection mechanism, the SADC-EPA countries may defer the liberalization ofspecific products or increase customs duties, if noticeable damage of the local industry is looming.

Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dr. Gerd Müller said: “Thisagreement will create new opportunities for economically and socially sustainable development inSouthern Africa. Trade barriers will be reduced. This will, for example, make it easier for SouthAfrican or Namibian farmers to offer their agricultural products to the EU market. The same appliesto processed products. Thus we create the conditions for added value in these countries. Only 17%of trade is inner-African while inside the EU it is 45%. We want to help our African partnercountries to become more competitive, so that they can participate successfully in the world'smarkets. This is an important requirement for a region in Africa whose economy is growingdynamically.”

In addition to the reduction of trade barriers, the agreement contains binding environmental andsocial standards and gives the European Commission the possibility to demand certain human rightsstandards. The agreement is therefore an important instrument in development cooperation for thefurther cooperation with SADC-EPA countries. The signing by the EU is planned during the sessionof the Foreign Affairs Council on the 23rd of May 2016 in Brussels and by SADC on the 10th ofJune 2016 in Gaborone. When the signing process is completed, the EPA will be presented to theGerman Federal Parliament for approval. Thus, the German Federal Government has done all that isnecessary for the agreement to come into force in all SADC member states.