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South African nations to sign economic partnership deal with EU

Posted on Jul 22 2014 | IANS

Cape Town, July 22 : The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will sign a new and improved economic partnership agreement with the European Union (EU), it was announced Monday.

Under the agreement, SADC countries will be given greater access to the EU market on certain products, South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in Cape Town , Xinhua reported.

he EU will eliminate export subsidies on agricultural goods destined for the region, said the minister.

As for South Africa, the EU will give the country access for 32 agricultural and dairy products and increased wine exports duty free, said Davies.

"What we have obtained from this agreement is that there are more opportunities for us to sell sugar, wine, ethanol and some fruit products than before and that could create jobs," he said.

Meanwhile, the agreement also imposes flexible export taxes on certain products. It also bans the labelling of EU products with the terms karoo lamb, rooibos and honeybush tea.

The agreement, hailed as an economic breakthrough, has taken a decade to negotiate. But there are still concerns over the trade balance between the EU and South Africa which is five billion rand (about 472 million USD dollars) in favour of the EU.

The trade balance is likely to continue to widen as South Africa faces strict regulations for citrus exports due to the blackspot fungal syndrome on its produce.

The agreement will only come into effect once it has been ratified by the cabinet and Parliament.

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