EU visit to partners
By Staff Reporter
17 July 2013
EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, was in Windhoek this week to discuss ways to strengthen trade and investment relations, and in particular comprehensive economic partnership agreements (EPAs).
De Gucht is travelling through Southern Africa until 19 July and on Tuesday met senior government officials, including Prime Minister Hage Geingob, Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, and Namibian business representatives.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is now one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, while the EU, with 500 million consumers, is the biggest market in the world.
There are great opportunities to be seized on both sides”, said De Gucht. “EPAs can provide a framework for deeper trade ties between the EU and Africa, whose geographical proximity can be turned into a distinct commercial advantage by way of trade and job creation.
I hope this visit will deepen the dialogue on the EPAs and address other issues of mutual interest as the multilateral trade talks,” he said.
The commissioner emphasised his commitment to bring EPA negotiations to conclusion as soon as possible to ensure that Namibia continues to enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market.
Namibia’s products enjoy free access to the EU market based on a temporary market access instrument that will end in October 2014. De Gucht said that, “I believe that the EU has already shown that we are ready to adjust our offer in a balanced manner to reflect major Namibian interests.”
Yesterday he left for South Africa to participate in the annual EU-South Africa Summit. There will be a new round of negotiations in September this year to discuss the outstanding issues at that point in time.
Trade between the European Union and Namibia has grown more than 200% over the last ten years. In 2012, bilateral trade amounted to some 2 billion Euros.
To date there are three Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) implemented; one with the Caribbean region (CARIFORUM), one with the Pacific region, and one with Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).
Namibia is negotiating a regional Partnership Agreement with the EU as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group, which also includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland.