by Victor Baatweng
Botswana is reported to have developed a comprehensive implementation plan that will ensure implementation in a more coordinated approach of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) that Botswana together with other SADC member states signed with the European Union (EU) in 2016.
Investment, Trade and Industry Minister – Vincent Seretse said this week that the implementation of the SADC – EU EPA Goods chapter, which was signed in June 2016 in Kasane, Botswana is ongoing.
Sunday Standard has been informed that Botswana completed her legal processes to effect implementation in January 2017.
“Commendable initiatives have continued to be undertaken as part of the implementation of the Agreement. At a national level, Botswana has initiated processes that will enable the private sector to derive optimum benefits from the negotiated Duty Free Quota Free market access”, said Seretse.
Seretse further said that efforts to create awareness on the Agreement as well as capacitating the Traders on the opportunities they can derive from this Agreement are on-going. “A pool of Arbitrators for the settlement of disputes arising out of the implementation of the Agreement has been constituted”.
The bedrock of the free trade agreement is the asymmetric liberalisation of barriers to trade between the two blocs, SADC and EU.
Trade between the EU and SADC has not come a long way in recent years, having hovered around $32 billion worth of exports for both sides. The latest numbers put SADC exports at $31.7 billion and EU exports at $32 billion. This represents around 1.8% of the EU’s total trade; SADC’s exports are only expected to rise by around 1%. As such, a gain to the SADC business community is noteworthy, but less than rhetoric might suggest. With protective measures in place for SADC’s sensitive industries (e.g. textiles), it is not clear European entrepreneurs and consumers stand to gain substantially more.
Recently the European Commission said that Mozambique became the “last piece of the puzzle to be placed” in this partnership after the other five countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
The EPA “offers opportunities for SADC countries to create jobs, attract more investment, industrialise and integrate into global value chains, and on the EU side, European companies are increasingly investing in the region.”