What is really in the economic partnership agreements for the Southern African region? A perspective from Botswanaâ€™s beef export markets
The signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union (EU) and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) nations dominated the multilateral trade agenda in late 2007 and early 2008. While the Caribbean nations signed the full EPAs, some of the African countries only singed interim agreements with the EU and a number of West African countries chose not to sign any EPA. Using the case of Botswanaâ€™s export markets, especially in agriculture, it is argued that the interim Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA, which was signed by Botswana and her neighbours, with the exception of South Africa, may have been economically sensible in protecting Botswanaâ€™s rural poor, at least in the short run. By tracing trade flows from the border to specifically poor sectors of the country, the importance of the beef exports sector to the poor and rural communities was found. The potential effects on the most significant exports of tariff bands associated with preferential agreements with the EU were found to be most beneficial in comparison to the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) and the South Africa-EU Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) tariff bands. But it is also argued that the EPA will most likely have far reaching long run costs on regional economic development and institutional integration, within the SADC and Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
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