The DA welcomes the conclusion of the EU EPA negotiations
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the SADC EPA group and European Union (EU).
With the agreement now making its way to Parliament for ratification, we will scrutinize it in detail to ensure that it improves terms of trade for South African exporters and that our remaining concerns are fully addressed.
We will also ensure that there is a public participation process that allows South African businesses, both importers and exporters, to share their views on the detail of the agreement.
We welcome particularly the EU’s commitment to reduce and eliminate agricultural subsidies on goods exported to the Southern African Customs Union. This is good for South African consumers who will now have access to cheaper European agricultural products.
Importantly, the agreement is set to improve market access for 32 South African agricultural products, including a more than doubling of the amount of wine we can export to Europe duty free.
Though the deal has succeeded in improving the terms of trade between the EU and South Africa, it is unfortunate that this new agreement has not achieved complete duty-free and tariff free trade for South Africa – unlike other SACU member states party to the agreement.
Questions remain over whether the agreement will allow new export taxes on certain minerals, and to what extent. The DA does not believe that the use of export taxes is appropriate for South Africa's economy.
Export taxes are trade distorting, creating an disincentive to international trade for domestic producers, and will only further widen South Africa’s trade deficit.
It also remains unclear how the concessions made in this agreement will impact on negotiations for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which are currently underway.
The DA remains concerned about the increasingly frequent use of sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) trade barriers by the EU, as is the case with citrus black spot, which independent research has shown to pose little or no threat to European orchards.
The EPA should address concerns about the abuse of SPS measures transparently and with appropriate mechanisms to protect South African exporters from unfair barriers.
The DA is committed to the growth of South Africa’s exports as a key driver of economic development and employment creation.