– South Africa and its Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) counterparts are on the verge of signing a new and improved economic partnership with the European Union (EU), according to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Welcoming an EU delegation to South Africa, Davies said the so-called SADC Economic Partnership Agreement would give these countries greater access to the EU market on certain products.
It follows a decade of negotiations and it will improve market access for 32 agricultural products, with a significant improvement in access to the EU market for wine (110-million litres duty-free), sugar (150,000 tons duty-free) and ethanol (80,000 tons duty-free).
There was also improved access to EU markets for South African exports of flowers, and of some dairy, fruit and fruit products.
In another significant deal, South Africa’s multi-million-dollar Rooibos tea industry has received a boost after Rooibos has secured ‘geographic indicator status’ as part of the agreement.
This means the term Rooibos will be applicable only to products that come from South Africa and are approved by Pretoria, following the massive popularity the herbal tea has acquired in Europe in recent years.
Last year, the SA Rooibos was forced to block a French company from trademarking the name.
The deal was was agreed in principal last week by the EU, the five members of the Southern African Customs Union – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland – as well as Mozambique and Angola.
The agreement will now go through a two-month process to iron out any legalities before being presented to the Cabinet for approval and to Parliament for ratification.