EU wants EPA initialled by the end of July

Home Business EU wants EPA initialled by the end of July

By Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK – The issue of export duties with regards to the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group and the European Commission (EC) has been resolved, but a local expert warns that if the EPA is not signed and there is a trade disruption, it will have a detrimental effect on producer prices.

Rejoice Karita, Senior Trade Advisor at the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF), attended the negotiations in South Africa and reports that most of the issues that hadn’t been concluded at previous negotiations, like the export duties and agricultural safeguards, have now been resolved. Karita states in her report that where export duties are concerned, the EU indicated that they would require an initialled agreement from the Namibian Cabinet for them to undertake the necessary internal procedures to avoid disruption in trade for current exports to the EU before the October deadline. The EU indicated that they would need the initialled agreement before the end of the month.

“Industries should thus note that there may be a disruption in trade if the text is not initialled on time,” she says.

Resolving the issue was achieved after the two groups met in South Africa recently for a joint negotiation session to try and conclude the negotiations before the set deadline of October 1.

Namibian beef producers currently enjoy access to the EU without paying duties and without any quota limitations.

This allows Namibian cattle and beef production systems to be competitive in the European market. Should Namibia not sign the EPA, Namibian beef producers could lose this free market access and any exports to the EU will require export taxes to be paid for such products.

According to Karita, something else that emerged at the recent negotiations is that although export duties have essentially been resolved, a final agreement is dependent on further negotiations to take place between South Africa and the EU.

Following the conclusion of these negotiations at a date that is yet to be announced, a video conference will be arranged between the SADC EPA Group and the EU as a whole to provide feedback on the consultations.

She says the outcome of the video conference will then pave the way forward, including possible arrangements for initialling and signing of the EPA text by all parties.