Xinhua | 2009-06-06
EU signs interim trade deal with 3 S African countries
BEIJING, June 6 — The European Union (EU) signed an interim trade deal on Thursday with the Southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
The deal secures EU market access for these countries, while negotiations for a full Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) continue, the European Commission said.
The full EPA will address all outstanding issues in terms of trade in goods, and also include chapters on services and trade-related aspects such as investment, government procurement and competition.
Among the seven Southern African countries which are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mozambique has signaled its intention to sign the agreement in the near future, but its trade minister was unable to come to Brussels, while South Africa, Namibia and Angola opted not to sign.
Soundbite: Daniel Neo Moroka, minister of Trade for Botswana "We in the SADC EPA region come largely from economies that are underdeveloped, from countries that are probably among the poorest in the ACP region. Europe has been a major trading partner, for most of us in the SADC EPA region. It was important that an EPA has entered into, which would constitute an agreement that would include and integrate all the different trading regimes. "
The EU represents SADC group’s largest trading partner. In 2008 total trade with the EU for the four countries which have now signed or are about to sign the interim EPA was almost 2.1 billion euros (2.98 billion U.S. dollars).
All four countries enjoyed individual trade surpluses with the EU, with the combined surplus standing at around 1 billion euros (1.42 billion U.S. dollars).
In 2008 the main exports to the EU for the four countries were aluminium, diamonds, sugar, beef and fish. Their main imports from the EU were mechanical machinery, electrical machinery, fertilizers and vehicles.
Xinhua News Agency correspondents reporting from Brussels.