“South Africa is pushing the European Union (EU) for greater market access in some areas more than we have currently under that bilateral agreement. This is particularly for agriculture products and agriculture processed products, which do suffer not only at the hands of high tariffs but also because the EU continues to revive large subsidies and domestic support for its own farmers,” Catherine Grant-Makokera told CNBC on Thursday.
Grant-Makokera heads the Economic Diplomacy Programme for the South African Institute at International Affairs Economic Diplomacy Programme.
She said the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations are at an advanced stage aimed at strengthening trade relations between the two partners. They will go beyond conventional free-trade agreements in order to increase foreign direct investment.
“One of those would be increased protection for some European products that have geographical indications as their name. They would be increased protection for products like wine, spirits, processed cheese and that would happen within Southern Africa,” said Grant-Makokera.
Grant-Makokera noted that this opportunity is going to give South Africa the privilege to become one trading regime between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) beneficiaries and the EU.
“The economic partnership agreement negotiations are important for South Africa, from the regional perspective, as European Union is the most important trading block as a region for Southern Africa,” she added.
EU Ambassador to South Africa Roland van de Geer on Tuesday told CNBC Africa that his union continues to favour trade relations with the country despite slow growth and rand volatility concerns threatening competitiveness and growth.
This was ahead of this week’s sixth session of the South Africa-European Union Summit in Pretoria focusing on job creation, economic growth, investment and skills.