Fostering Trade through Private-Public Dialogue: Business Implications of EPA Negotiations for SADC
The International Trade Centre (ITC), in collaboration with the Trade Law Centre (tralac), organized a “Regional Experts Meeting” for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 11-12 June 2007 in Stellenbosch, South Africa focusing on the business implications of negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and issues relating to regional integration.
This initiative aimed at increasing the common understanding on the business implications of trade negotiations and about the ways and means for business and negotiators to jointly define their priorities; seizing the opportunities and coping with the challenges.
Fostering communications between business and government leads to devising negotiating positions in line with national needs and is inclusive of the real and concrete economic and commercial interests of the countries concerned. The discussions encompassed: (i) Market Access opportunities in Agriculture and Manufactured goods including implications of appropriate rules of origin (ROO) in preferential trade (ii) Trade facilitation: measures that need to be taken together with their implications for facilitating regional trade (iii) Investments: experiences of attracting foreign direct investments in various sectors and the impact on businesses/at the regional level; and (iv) Regional integration as a means to enhance competitiveness through production synergies and harnessing economies of scale. The participants benefited from the expertise of TRALAC, ITC, WTO, trade negotiators and key business players from the region. Their contributions helped in integrating business priorities into trade negotiations.
National teams representing the private sector and trade negotiators of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Tanzania participated at the meeting. Representatives the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also participated. In addition, the following Business and Trade Associations were being represented: the African Business Roundtable (ABR); the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASCCI); the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA); the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the African Union (AU).