New EU deal will boost local jobs, parly hears

Cape Town - The recently signed partnership between the European Union (EU) and seven of the Southern Africa Development Community member states will go a long way to create new job opportunities, said the ANC's Joanmariae Fubbs in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Fubbs, who is chairperson of the portfolio committee on trade and industry, was introducing the new economic partnership agreement (EPA) between the EU and the SADC countries for ratification by parliament.

The new EPA replaced the former Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) with the EU, which had less favourable terms than the new agreement.

“It’s great news,” Fubbs said, “as it’s  replacing the chapter on trade in the TDCA. The new agreement will enable South Africa to increase exports of value-added products to the EU, which is South Africa’s largest trading partner.”  

All of the former issues of access and duty preferences have been improved upon, she added. The terms for sugar exports are particularly favourable as the new agreement would allow South Africa to export 150 000 tonnes of sugar to the EU.

The DA’s spokesperson on trade and industry Geordin Hill-Lewis, said the new EPA would give South Africa “unfettered access to the world’s biggest trading block.”

Hill-Lewis said the agreement put forward the case for a much more confident trade policy. “In difficult times like these there’s a tendency to become protectionist and inward-looking. But the drift towards protectionism is self-defeatist. It leaves us poorer and shrinks the market.”

Floyd Shivambu, EFF spokesperson on trade and industry asked what purpose the short debate on the EPA served, as the agreement had already been signed in June.

“[Instead of debating this] we should rather discuss how these agreements are entered into,” Shivambu said. “We’re just a rubber stamp. There should rather be a discussion about all these agreements we have. These things are already operational. It’s not like we’re doing anything new here.” 

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