Economic Partnership Agreement with southern African countries enters into effect

Five southern African countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland – and the EU today start a new chapter in their bilateral relations with the entry into effect of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Mozambique is in the process of ratifying the agreement and will join in as soon as the ratification procedure is completed. The EPA is a development-oriented agreement that takes into account the different levels of development of the partners. It gives Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Swaziland immediate duty-free, quota-free access for their exports to the EU market. South Africa will also benefit from enhanced market access, going beyond its existing bilateral arrangement with the EU. It also provides for a number of protective measures in these countries, for instance for nascent, fragile industries or for food security reasons. Furthermore, the agreement 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. The southern African markets will open only partially to EU exports, gradually over time, providing their industries with the intermediary goods they need to support growth. More information is available in the press release, the MEMO, and today’s blog post by Commissioner Malmström on the need to give southern African businesses and entrepreneurs the best possible chances of succeeding.