SADC EPA Workshop, 23 August 2014
tralac held a workshop on 23 August, 2014, in Cape Town, to discuss the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that negotiators of the SADC EPA parties and the European Union (EU) initialed on 15 July 2014 at a joint negotiating session in Pretoria, South Africa. This signalled the culmination of a ten-year negotiating process which addressed a range of technical and political issues. Amongst the contentious issues were export taxes, the regional MFN clause and special agricultural safeguards.
The SADC EPA is a free trade area (FTA) concluded between six SADC member states and the EU. Five of the six SADC EPA states (Mozambique is the exception) belong to the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The EU and South Africa had already in 1999, concluded an FTA, the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). Given South Africa’s membership of SACU, she requested to be included in the SADC EPA negotiations that were launched in 2004. Despite initial resistance from the EU, South Africa did join the SADC EPA configuration. The SADC EPA provides improved (compared to the TDCA) market access for, in particular, South Africa’s agricultural exports to the European markets.
After the current process of legal scrubbing, the agreement has to be signed, ratified or approved in accordance with the constitutional or internal rules and procedures of each party. It shall enter into force on the first day of the second month following the deposit of the last instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval. Pending this process, the European Union and the SADC EPA States have agreed to apply the provisions of this Agreement which fall within their respective competences (‘provisional application’). This may be effected either by provisional application where possible or by ratification of this Agreement.
The details of this provisional application, legal and institutional issues related to the agreement, the market access arrangements for the other SADC EPA member states, and implementation matters are discussed in a Working Paper by Gerhard Erasmus.