A new economic agreement between SADC and the European Union will soon come into effect, giving agricultural products from the region improved access to the EU.
The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) on Thursday said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) group has submitted the necessary instruments required to bring the agreement into effect.
The SADC group is made up of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
“The agreement will provisionally enter into force between SACU [Southern African Customs Union] member states and the EU on 10 October 2016 for all provisions of the agreement, except for the new agriculture market access that requires an exchange of letters between the EU and South Africa to confirm the protection of each other’s Geographical Indications (GIs) names.
“It is expected that the new agricultural market access will enter into force on 1 November 2016. The agreement will provisionally enter into force between the EU and Mozambique once the latter has finalised their ratification process,” said the dti.
For South Africa and the EU, the EPA will replace the trade chapter in the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA).
Under the EPA, South Africa gains improved access into the EU for wine, sugar, ethanol, flowers, some dairy products, fresh fruit, canned fruit, fruit juice and yeast.
With respect to sugar, South Africa has duty free access for 150 000 tons. The existing wine quota will increase from 50 million litres to 110 million litres, with flexibility on the size of the containers (i.e. bottled and bulk). The duty free access for ethanol is 80 000 tons.
“The EPA also provides significant benefits to South Africa and the EU on the protection of GI names. The EU will protect 105 South African GIs, which consist of 102 wine names and three agricultural product names (Rooibos, Honeybush and Karoo Lamb), while South Africa will protect 253 EU GIs, which consist of 120 wine names, seven beers, 22 spirits and 104 agricultural product names (special meats, cheeses and olives),” said the dti.
The fisheries sector will be liberalised for the first time under the EPA, as it was not the case under TDCA. The liberalisation schedule will be phased in stages over a period not exceeding nine years.
Preparations for the smooth implementation of the agreement are underway. The agreement will be administered by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) once the legislation has been approved and published in the Government Gazette, and will be applied on a retrospective basis.
“Traders making use of the tariff preferences under the TDCA and with goods already shipped are advised to pre-clear these goods before 10 October 2016 to avoid unintended consequences in the change of the trading regime between SA and the EU from the TDCA to the EPA,” said the department.