The European Union and six southern African nations will sign off on a trade accord after 12 years of negotiations that were stalled mainly by differences over market access for agricultural products.
The so-called Economic Partnership Agreements gives products from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland duty- and quota-free access to the EU. South Africa, which has the region’s most-developed economy, will enjoy enhanced market access that goes beyond an existing preferential trade pact. The new accord is open-ended and will be reviewed every five years.
Despite the delays, the fact that some EU economies were struggling and the uncertainty of the UK leaving the EU, the deal is the most favorable yet clinched by the African nations, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.
“It opens up fully the EU market for all goods and commodities on an asymmetric basis,” she said in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital. “It contains safeguards for vulnerable sectors and is a long-term cooperation on economic development. More trade is better but ours is the most advantageous” deal.
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