South Africa and the European Union (EU) this week mark the first anniversary of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström met in Johannesburg on Monday to review their respective trade and investment agendas.
During their bilateral discussion on the EPA that supports sustainable development, Minister Davies and Malmström acknowledged the need to maximise the benefits of the EPA and move forward with its implementation.
The two leaders emphasised the importance of trade that supports development and promotes inclusive growth. They also discussed how the EPA's impact should be monitored.
The year 2017 marks 10 years of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership. This partnership has been mutually beneficial to both parties and presents further opportunities to enhance trade between the two sides.
For instance, since the entry into force of the EPA, South African exports of fisheries products and flowers have considerably increased.
Trade with the EU represents 27% of South Africa's overall trade, while EU foreign direct investment (FDI) amounts to 77% of total FDI.
SADC-EU Partnership Agreement
Minister Davies and Malmström also used the opportunity to celebrate the one year anniversary of putting the EPA between the EU and six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) into practice.
The SADC-EU EPA entered into force on 10 October 2016. It provides opportunities for trade in agricultural goods and seafood, protects geographical indications such as rooibos tea and Paarl wine, and renews the regional partnership to promote development.
The EPA applies to all Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries, the oldest customs union in the world. It also applies to Mozambique and contains rules that can spur further regional integration and foster regional value chains.
The EU is supporting the region and South Africa with projects aimed at reinforcing the regional market by improving transport links, facilitating trade, developing regional value chains, supporting small businesses and providing training.
Minister Davies and Malmström agreed on the common priority to support young people to acquire the skills they need and secure employment, as this is a key element in delivering sustainable development.
"Both parties should work together to ensure that the EPA contributes to the structural transformation agenda of the region, enhances trade and promotes mutually beneficial outcomes," said Minister Davies.
Meanwhile, Malmström emphasised that this is a partnership of equals.
"As partners, it is our joint responsibility to ensure that the benefits of our EPA are felt by all in the region. We all have a common goal to create prosperity for people in Southern Africa and in Europe. The EPA only delivers results if we work together," she said.
Malmström will on Tuesday visit the Witwatersrand University where she will give a lecture on global trade issues.
She will also visit an organic farm managed by a young black female entrepreneur, who intends to make use of the EPA.