Building capacity to help Africa trade better

EPA conclusion – no time for complacency: IPPR


EPA conclusion – no time for complacency: IPPR

EPA conclusion – no time for complacency: IPPR

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has warned in its latest Economy Watch Namibia publication, that although relief has been brought to affected industries, there is no time for complacency now that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) has been finalized.

Compiled by IPPR’s Research Associate, Klaus Schade, the publication notes that Namibia needs to diversify its product range and export markets and needs to become more competitive. 

“The benefit of preferential access to the EU will erode over time, since the EU is negotiating free trade agreements with other countries and regional groupings. It has just signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada and is negotiating a mega-trade deal with the USA – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The USA is involved in a second mega-trade agreement, namely the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) with countries around the Pacific.” 

Schade remarks that although Namibia (or other third parties) is not directly affected, these agreements will eventually have an affect since they ease access to these markets for other producers and have the potential to redirect trade and investment flows. “Moreover, these agreements are reportedly setting new standards for investor and other protection that will set the scene for investment agreements elsewhere,” stated Schade. 

Schade noted that the “so-called SADC EPA group” initialed the EPA just before the 1 October deadline set by the EU, making it the first regional grouping in Africa to have successfully finalized the EPA negotiations with the EU.

“This brought to an end ten years of protracted negotiations between a group of SADC countries that first consisted of the SACU member states, joined by Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania. Tanzania took a logical decision and joined the East African Community for the negotiations, while Angola opted out to trade with the EU market under the Everything-but-Arms (EBA) schemes that allows Least Developed Countries duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market for almost all products except arms. South Africa joined the negotiations although it has been trading with the EU under its bilateral and reciprocal Trade and Development Agreement (TDCA),” explained Schade. 

Negotiations for a new trade agreement were necessitated by the fact that the existing Contonou Agreement between the EU and most of its former colonies in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions provided for non-reciprocal preferences, which were not in line with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) regulations.

The WTO granted a waiver until the end of 2007 for the continuation of the Contonou Agreement, which put pressure on the parties to agree on new terms.


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