Overall, the EPA offers new opportunities for South African exporters and importers, while allowing for the correction of some of the trade imbalances that had occurred as a result of the TDCA, particularly in the agriculture sector, which gains improved market access into the EU for more than 30 products under the EPA.
For South Africa, this signals a significant opportunity to meet increasing demand from Europe for fish, particularly Cape Hake, as previously excluded fisheries products can now enter the EU market duty-free and quota-free, said EU delegation to South Africa head of trade and economics Massimo de Luca. With fisheries at the heart of the EPA, South Africa can take advantage of one of the most traded commodities in the world and develop the industry further by way of processing and aquaculture, besides others. Value-added products and niche products will probably benefit most from the agreement.
As South Africa is already a net exporter and the EU a proven stable market, the potential is “huge”, particularly with the opening up of exports of abalone to the EU once the final audit review is concluded in March. South African fisheries currently only accounted for 1% of the country’s gross domestic product, but it was a strategic sector that could add 28 000 jobs in the commercial sector and double that at a local level, he said.
The EPA offered improved access on products already in place, through an increase in quotas or the complete elimination of quotas, and more flexibility on rules of origin, while addressing the shortfalls of the previous trade agreement, explained Department of Trade and Industry international trade and economic development chief director trade negotiations Niki Kruger.