05 Feb 2015 13:00pm
WINDHOEK, 05 FEB (NAMPA) Although Namibia and the European Union (EU) have only initialed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), trade as envisaged in the full EPA is flowing well.
We have quota and tariff-free access into the EU market, and the EU has the same access into our market, Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein told Nampa on Wednesday, indicating that there is hope that the full EPA will be signed this year.
Namibia has been under increasing pressure to sign the current EPA by the 01 October 2014 deadline after the EU announced that middle-income countries which had not done so by then would be excluded from duty-free, quota-free market access.
The country then initialed the EPA in July 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa, after extensive negotiations in a bid to try and address the unresolved issues in order to avoid possibly missing out on trade deals with the EU.
Among the unresolved issues was the EUs insistence to be treated as Most-Favoured Nation, which Namibia says would hamper future South-South trading agreements.
The EU also wants Namibia to abolish quantitative restrictions on imports from Europe, while freezing the export taxes Namibia was entitled to and prohibiting new export taxes.
In international economic relations and international politics, 'most-favoured nation' (MFN) is a status or level of treatment accorded by one State to another in international trade.
This implies that the country which is the recipient of this treatment must nominally receive equal trade advantages as the 'most-favoured nation' by the country granting such treatment.
Under the final EPA agreement, Namibian restrictions on EU imports and local export taxes would remain unaffected.
Namibia would also be able to apply export taxes without major restrictions for economic purposes, including infant industry protection and revenue needs, despite restrictions on the use of export taxes for industrial development purposes.
We have also achieved improvements and greater fairness in the bilateral safeguard mechanism to shield us from sudden inflows of larger quantities of EU goods.
The EU has agreed to eliminate all subsidies on goods exported to Namibia, the minister was quoted as saying last year when he announced the initialisation of the EPAs in the National Assembly.
Schlettwein told this agency that the final 750-agreement document is with legal experts to make sure that there is nothing ambiguous in the text.
The text is purely under screen for legal ambiguities. It is a long process before the agreement is signed due to the thickness of the document.
After the experts are done with the document, it has to, among others, be signed and rectified by Member States.
In the case of Namibia, it will go to Parliament to get final authorisation for binding after verification has been done, he explained.
The EU is Namibia's second-biggest export market after South Africa.