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Benchmarking EPA negotiations between EU and SADC

Trade Reports

Benchmarking EPA negotiations between EU and SADC

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This Working Paper starts by summarising the status of SADC-EU EPA negotiations and sketches the legal and institutional outline underlying these negotiations. Subsequent to this, a framework that explains the links between trade and development is presented. This provides the rationale for the selection of benchmarks that can be used in monitoring and assessing progress with the SADC-EU EPA negotiations and the subsequent implementation of an EPA. The premise of the study is that an EPA is not only a trade liberalisation exercise; the development of the ACP countries and their gradual and smooth insertion into the global economy are fundamental parts of the agreements to be concluded.

The SADC EPA group presents negotiators with particular challenges. South Africa has now been included in the configuration, which presents specific negotiating problems. Firstly, South Africa has a reciprocal trade agreement, the TDCA, with the EU in place, and secondly, adding South Africa to the SADC configuration has compounded the diversity of the group. Within the SADC group the economic inequality resembles that which exists between the EU and the SADC group.

The introduction of development into the EPA equation requires a sign posted roadmap of the progress made in the negotiation and implementation of the Agreement. These signposts can be seen as preconceived benchmarks that can guide negotiations and implementation and can serve as a means of monitoring progress. Benchmarking, as mechanism, is derived from the discipline of strategic management to evaluate the performance of firms against best practice outcomes, and can serve the useful purpose of evaluating EPA negotiations and implementation.

The study proposes a number of benchmarks that can be used. It must readily be admitted that it will be difficult to apply them to a negotiation process, which is dynamic and susceptible to short term changes. Nevertheless, an analytical framework is used to dissect economic development into components: the outcome of development, the supply side of economic growth, that is, the capacity to produce tradable products, the demand side, which considers the absorption of the larger output by demand, and finally, the policy spaces that governments have to implement national development policies. The premise adopted is that there is a close link between economic growth and poverty alleviation and that trade is an important element in the growth and development process. Growth, however, is seen as a necessary condition for poverty alleviation and can only succeed in bringing about a widespread improvement in the welfare of society if the quality of growth is such that the benefits of growth are distributed among the population at large.

Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.


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