Brussels, 12 July 2013
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht on visit to Kenya, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa
From 15 to 19 July 2013, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will be travel to four African countries: Kenya (part of the Eastern African Community, EAC) and Namibia, Botswana, South Africa (members of the Southern African Development Community, SADC). Commissioner De Gucht will use this opportunity to discuss ways to strengthen trade and investment relations with the African regions, in particular through comprehensive trade and development partnerships. The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that the EU has been negotiating with EAC and the SADC group aim to consolidate countries’ free access to the EU market, foster trade-related cooperation and promote investment.
"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 Commissioner Karel 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 such as the multilateral trade talks", added the Commissioner.
To boost trade relations and prepare the ground for the conclusion of EPAs in the foreseeable future, Commissioner De Gucht will meet Trade Ministers from the four countries: Mrs Phyllis Kandie in Kenya, Mr Calle Schlettwein in Namibia, Mrs Dorcas Makgato-Malesu in Botswana and Mr Rob Davies in South Africa. He will also participate in the annual EU-South Africa Summit which will be held in Pretoria on 18 July.
On the basis of the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, organised into self-defined regional groupings, and the European Union have been negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements. Those agreements aim to ensure duty free, quota free access to EU market, along with other provisions (e.g. on health and hygiene standards, and other trade-related rules) tailored to the needs of the ACP countries.
To date, there are three EPAs under implementation: one with the Caribbean region (CARIFORUM), one with the Pacific region (Papua New Guinea and Fiji, only Papua applying it), and one with Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA, including Zimbabwe and the three Indian Ocean nations of Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles).
EPA negotiations seek to establish stable and sustainable partnerships based on reciprocal trade though allowing enough asymmetry to take into account the development needs of the EU's EPA partners.
Kenya negotiates an EPA with the EU as a member of the East African Community, along with Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The EU is Kenya's biggest trading partner, accounting for around 25% of the country’s total exports - over €1 billion a year. EU-Kenya reciprocal trade in goods has continued to grow in recent years, reaching more than €2.5 billion in 2012. Kenya's main exports to the EU are fresh cut flowers, tea, coffee and vegetables, mainly peas and beans.
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are negotiating a regional Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group, which also includes Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. Trade between the EU and South Africa is currently governed by the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) signed in 1999. By implementing an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, Botswana and Namibia can maintain duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market.
The three Southern African countries are rich in natural resources and export diamonds (Botswana, South Africa), uranium (Namibia), platinum (South Africa) and other commodities to the EU. They are strong exporters in sectors such as beef (Namibia, Botswana), fisheries (Namibia) and table grapes (Namibia). South Africa has also a strong agri-food sector exporting wine, sugar, citrus and other fruit, but, as an emerging rather than developing country has a much more diversified economy and exports also manufactured or semi-manufactured goods.
The EU exports a wide range of goods to the SADC EPA Group countries, including vehicles, machinery, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and processed food. All in all, trade between the EU and the SADC EPA Group is dominated by exchanges with South Africa, the biggest economy in the region and beyond. Total EU-South Africa bilateral trade increased by more than three quarters since 2000 and amounted to €46 billion last year. Over the years, trade between the EU and South Africa has been balanced. South Africa is also a key player in the service sector in Africa, with a strong presence in telecommunications, banking and financial services, tourism, hotels and catering, transport, etc. Trade in services with the EU has therefore also seen steep growth figures.
For more information
EU relations with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries:
State of Play in EPA negotiations (PDF):