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EU Welcomes New Free Trade Deal With African States

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

11 October 2016

The EU's Competition Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has welcomed the launch of a free trade deal that will provide Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland duty- and quota-free access for their exports to the EU market.

She said: "The agreement that we're putting in place will support sustainable economic growth and regional integration in southern Africa and is designed to help lift people out of poverty in the years to come. Africa is the emerging continent and the Economic Partnership Agreements have been designed to maximize this dynamism."

The free trade deal is in the form of an Economic Partnership Agreement. It entered into force on October 10, 2016, and is intended to take into account the different levels of development among the southern African parties. It partially or fully removes EU customs duties on 98.7 percent of imports from South Africa. In turn, the southern African markets will open partially and gradually to EU exports. The agreement also includes a number of protective measures for these countries, and increases the flexibility of southern African producers to put together products with components from various other countries, without the risk of losing their free access to the EU market.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: "Jobs and sustainable economic growth, that is what the EPA can help deliver. Private sector development and trade are significant drivers to lift people out of poverty and implement the new global agenda of Sustainable Development Goals. The EPA can contribute to regional economic integration, an enabling business environment and improved competitiveness of the region."

TAGS: South Africa | free trade agreement (FTA) | Swaziland | tariffs | trade treaty | Lesotho | Mozambique | agreements | Botswana | Namibia | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe | Africa

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