Gaborone — It took 10 years of negotiations between the six members of SADC and the EU to successfully conclude talks on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Speaking at the National workshop on SADC EPA Safeguards, deputy permanent secretary responsible for Trade, Ms Ontlametse Ward pointed out that EPA was a reciprocal trade agreement under the umbrella of the Cotonou Agreement, in which all parties commit to trade liberalisation and through it SADC EPA countries could exempt sensitive products from liberalisation so as to take account of their level of development.
She mentioned that some of the benefits of EPA include duty free quota free access to the EU market, if market forces are permitting.
"One could export as much of their produce to the EU market as they could, both in industrial and agricultural goods," said Ms Ward.
She also mentioned that on the other hand, the SADC EPA states had also liberalised their Trade with the EU.
Ms Ward stated that implementation of any Trade Agreement brings both positive and negative implications to the local industries and consumers.
She said countries implementing such Agreements would be interested in guarding against the negative consequences, some of which may be in the form of import surges, causing or threatening to cause injury to the local industries.
She mentioned that it was crucial to understand some of the provisions of EPA, especially Trade Remedies, adding that such were trade policy tools that allow governments to take remedial action against imports that are causing material injury to a domestic industry.
She further mentioned that EPA allowed safeguard for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibi, saying that way people would be able to respond to damaging surges of EU imports into their market by taking those measures.
Furthermore she said the EU also allowed SADC EPA states to have policy-space to institute general agricultural safeguard measures to address damaging surges of imports from EU.