International Agreements in Progress: Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Briefing 13-09-2017

In line with the objective of the Cotonou Agreement to establish a World Trade Organization-compatible trade regime with ACP countries, in 2002 the EU started negotiations on free trade agreements with different ACP regional configurations. One of these is the SADC EPA Group – of southern African countries, including South Africa. The negotiations were long but the final outcome is a compromise that has been accepted by all parties, with the exception of Angola which did not endorse the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), but has an option to join in the future. The Agreement establishes an asymmetric free trade area, taking into account the disparities in the level of development between the EU and its African partners, which can shield sensitive products from EU competition. It emphasises sustainable development as an overarching objective, includes important safeguards in order to protect sensitive sectors from sudden surges in trade, and gives African countries the possibility to preserve their policy space in order to industrialise. The Agreement was signed in June 2016 and entered into provisional application on 10 October 2016, after being ratified by five of the six African countries and the European Parliament. It is now in the process of ratification by EU national parliaments. Second edition. The ‘International Agreements in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. To view earlier editions of this briefing, please see: PE 586.661, 7 September 2016.