Southern Africa and the European Union: the TDCA and SADC EPA
Regional integration is not a new issue in the Southern African region with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) dating back to 1910. It was only in 2002, however, that steps were taken to ensure that SACU members pursued a more coordinated trade policy approach with regard to third parties. A common external tariff did exist before the 2002 Agreement but the members of SACU had in reality been negotiating bilateral free trade arrangements with other countries with little regard to the concerns of their SACU partners.
One such example is the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) concluded between South Africa and the European Union in 1999. The remaining SACU members (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland – the BLNS) are not party to the TDCA but in effect have been required to adhere to some of the provisions of the Agreement, especially with regards to the tariff concessions offered by South Africa. The BLNS are now themselves in the process of negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union. These Agreements are aimed at replacing the preferential access regime set out in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
This paper explores the relationship between the members of SACU and the European Union. Background information is provided on SACU, the TDCA and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA negotiations. The final two sections look at the areas of overlap between all these arrangements and specific ways that a convergence could be achieved between the provisions of the TDCA and the SADC EPA.
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