The future of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), between the European Union (EU) and the South African Development Community (SADC) hangs in the balance, following the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to follow through on Brexit.
Those of us who laboured under the misapprehension that Brexit wouldn’t have a significant an impact in Africa received a rude awakening this week, after discussions emerged on whether the EPA should be ratified or not.
The United Kingdom has already signalled its intent to ratify the agreement, which was drafted in June 2016 – and that is positive. However, a lot of that will likely hinge on what kind of deal is secured between the United Kingdom and the EU.
The partnership between the EU and EPA States (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland (now known as Eswatini) has been provisionally applied since 10 October 2016, except in the case of Mozambique, where it has been provisionally applied since 4 February 2018.
The EPA aims to promote increased trade and investment between the EU and SADC EPA States, by putting the United Kingdom’s trading relationship on a more equitable, mature and business-like footing, supporting sustainable growth and poverty reduction.
The UK government is proceeding to ratify the EU-SADC EPA in line with agreed policy that the UK should continue to ratify third country agreements with the EU before the UK exits the EU.
As an EU member state, the UK said it was committed to supporting the EU’s ambitious trade and development agendas.