Africa trade sector has received good news – especially for manufacturers and traders in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. On 14th September, 2016, the European Parliament The approved an agreement which grants access for the EU countries to receive products from the above listed countries on a duty-free basis. What this means is that, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho have been offered duty-free access to EU markets while South Africa is also listed to have an improved market access.
According to the parliament, this decision is to help strengthen the African economy. Before the vote, Rapporteur Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE, DE) said that, “This agreement will help our African partner states to reduce poverty and can also facilitate their smooth and gradual integration into the world economy. There are also many safeguards in the deal to ensure that local people truly benefit from this cooperation. The language on human rights and sustainable development is one of the strongest that you will find in any EU agreement.” The agreement was not a perfect ‘yes’ response from every member of the parliament, however it was quiet positive to realize the agreement was approved by 417 votes to 216, with 66 abstentions.
Regarding free access to EU markets for African states, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with six member states of the South African Development Community (SADC) establishes a “positive discrimination”, ensuring immediate duty- and quota-free access for their exports to the EU market. It also creates new regional opportunities through more flexible use of rules of origin. The African countries will liberalize 86 per cent of their trade with the EU (Mozambique 74 per cent) over 10 years with the exception of agricultural and fishery products. The deal replaces the previous interim agreements based on unilateral trade preferences and complies with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
While the agreement covers only trade and development cooperation, it leaves the door open for services, investment, intellectual property and public procurement. The deal will enter into force once the Council formally approves it and the national parliaments of the six African states ratifies it.