SADC-EU EPA High-Level Civil Society Forum – Johannesburg, 16 October 2017
On Monday, 16 October 2017, tralac participated in the SADC-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement High-Level Civil Society Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Forum aimed to inform civil society on the EPA, which has been provisionally implemented since 10 October 2016, focusing particularly on the sustainable development objectives and to identify the role of civil society in implementing and evaluating the impact of the EPA.
Civil society and non-state actors play an important role in monitoring the impact of the EPA on economic and social development and the environment; identifying bottlenecks and challenges with the implementation of the Agreement and developing action plans to address the identified challenges. Organised civil society can also push governments to address challenges with implementation to ensure the EPA delivers benefits across all stakeholders.
Active participation by civil society can go far to monitor both the negative consequences and the positive outcomes of the EPA. However, to ensure active and effective participation the following questions need to be answered:
How will a formal common civil society platform be established among all the relevant non-state actors in the SADC EPA member states?
What is the best format for engagement between civil society and government to inform policy decisions and lead to changes and improvements in legislation, policy and implementation of the EPA?
How can capacity constraints, like skills, knowledge, infrastructure and financial resources of non-state actors be improved to achieve effective engagement?
During the discussions, some challenges related to the implementation of the EPA were already identified:
An overall lack of knowledge and awareness of the existence of the EPA in general; and specifically, the areas covered by the Agreement and opportunities available – who can benefit and how the benefits can be achieved.
How will countries, especially Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique be assisted to trade better under the EPA? What kinds of assistance are available in terms of capacity building and financial resources to address challenges like small and medium enterprise (SME) participation, and complying with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to enable exports?
What will be the impact of Brexit on the implementation of the SADC-EU EPA?
Visit tralac’s SADC-EU EPA resources page for further details and resources.