Working Papers

State of play in the SADC-EU EPA negotiations

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01 Jun 2010

Author(s): Sean Woolfrey

In June 2009, four members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiating group – Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland – signed an interim EPA (IEPA) with the European Union (EU). This was a significant development for regional integration in southern Africa, and has led to considerable debate over the future of integration initiatives in the region. Concerns have been raised over the effects the signing of the IEPA will have on the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), two of whose members – South Africa and Namibia – chose not to sign the IEPA

This paper aims to provide an update on the SADC-EU EPA negotiations, focusing in particular on some of the most contentious issues that have arisen during the negotiations. It begins by tracing the history of the EPAs through the various trade agreements and conventions that have regulated trade between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. The paper then highlights recent developments in the SADC-EU EPA, including the signing of the IEPA in 2009. Turning to the state of play in the SADC-EU EPA negotiations as of early 2010, the paper addresses the main sticking points in the negotiations, including the so-called ‘MFN Clause’, the coherence of the SACU common external tariff and the definition of the parties to the agreement. Finally, the paper concludes with some remarks on the significance of the current impasse in the negotiations.


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