Agreement to be signed

Helping to boost economic development in Southern Africa

German government in favour of Economic Partnership Agreement between EU and SADC

Woman selling bananas at a market in Beira, Mozambique

Press release of 27.04.2016 |

Berlin – The German Cabinet decided in today's meeting that Germany would agree to sign the European Union's Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the member states of the SADC-EPA group.

The Agreement gives guaranteed long-term access to the European market on a customs- and quota-free basis to the countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. South Africa, as a significantly further developed country, will be given wider access to the European market than it has now. In return, these African countries will gradually open their markets over a twelve-year period for around 80 per cent of the EU's products. Like other EPAs, this one too protects important products in each region that are either produced there or have potential for local value creation from competition over the long term. The EPA with SADC also provides for additional protectionist measures. For example, the SADC-EPA countries can halt the liberalisation of restrictions on certain goods or can increase tariffs if there is a danger that local industry will be significantly weakened.

German Development Minister Müller said, "The Agreement offers new opportunities for sustainable economic and social development in Southern Africa. Trade barriers will be lifted. This will make it easier for farmers in South Africa or Namibia, for example, to market their agricultural products – even those that have been processed – here in Europe. By opening our market for their products, we are helping these countries to further develop their value chains. Currently, only 17 per cent of African countries' trade is carried out with their African neighbours. Three quarters of their goods are traded with the EU. We want to help our African partner countries become more competitive so that they can trade successfully on the world markets. That is an important prerequisite if this region of Africa wants to experience dynamic economic growth.

Besides the dismantling of trade barriers, the Economic Partnership Agreement also obliges all parties to adhere to specific environmental and social standards, and gives the EU Commission the right to insist on the respect for human rights. Therefore, the Agreement is an important instrument of development policy as regards further cooperation with the SADC-EPA countries. Once Germany has signed the Agreement, it only remains for the European Union and the SADC-EPA states to sign. When signing has been completed, the German side will submit the EPA to parliament for approval.

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