Improved merchandise trade opportunities: The EPA guarantees access to the EU market without tariffs or quotas for Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. South Africa enjoys new market access under the EU-South Africa Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), which currently governs trade relations with the EU until October 2016 (when the EPA came into force on an interim basis, which lifted the trade component of the TDCA). The new access includes better trading conditions, particularly in agriculture and fishing, including wine, sugar, fish products, flowers and fruit preserves. The EU will benefit from new valid access to the southern African customs union (whose products include wheat, barley, cheese, meat products and butter) and will have the security of a bilateral agreement with Mozambique, one of the region`s LDCs. The EPAs are based on the 2000 Cotonou Agreement. The provisions of the Cotonou Agreement on human rights, sustainable development and dialogue, including parliaments and civil society, remain in force. That is why the EPA offers one of the most comprehensive human rights and sustainable development protections available in EU agreements. Article 2 of the APE CDAA recalls that the agreement is based on the principles of respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. But the agreement goes beyond the memory of these principles.
It confirms that « appropriate measures » can be taken within the framework of the existing Cotonou agreement if a party fails to meet its obligations with regard to these fundamental principles. Suspension of commercial services is such a measure, even if it is a measure of last resort. Under the CDAA EPA, the EU grants 100% free access to Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. In addition, the EU has eliminated all or part of tariffs on 98.7% of imports from South Africa. The states of the CDAA EPA do not have to react with the same level of market opening. Instead, they can retain tariffs on products that are sensitive to international competition. This is sometimes called asymmetric liberalization. The South African Customs Union (SACU) removes tariffs on only about 86% of imports from the EU.
Apart from EPAs, the EU has never agreed on such asymmetry in a free trade agreement. The rules of origin define which products can benefit from trade preferences. In the CDAA EPA, they were formulated in such a way as to make it easier for CDAA EPA countries to benefit from reduced EU rights. The textile industry, for example, benefits in countries such as South Africa and Lesotho, which depend on imported fabrics. In addition, it is the first agreement that excludes the possibility for the EU to use agricultural export subsidies. The EPA also contains a large number of « safety valves » or safety valves. EPA countries can activate them and increase import duties if imports from the EU increase so sharply or so rapidly that they threaten to disrupt domestic production. The agreement contains no less than five bilateral safeguards, a figure that is not repeated in any other EU trade agreement. In addition, if the EU applies protection under WTO rules, the EU offers its CEPOL partners a five-year renewable exemption from its application, which will allow EPA countries to continue exporting. How is SADC EPA a development-oriented agreement? The agreement was the first regional EPA in Africa to be fully operational after Mozambique began implementing the EPA in February 2018. The EPA provides asymmetric access to the partners of the APE CDAA group.
They can protect sensitive products from full liberalisation and safeguards can be taken if imports from the EU increase too rapidly. A detailed chapter on development identifies areas of trade that can benefit from financing.