According to a statementÂ from the EU, Commissioner Ashton spent the
9th and 10th of February in Cape Town, where she was expected to meet
with South African Trade Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa and Foreign Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.Â She was alsoÂ to meet with the group of ANSA
(Angola, Namibia, South Africa) ministers, as well as representatives
from the South African parliament and civil society.
A key goal of the visit is to discuss the Economic Partnership Agreement with Southern African countries.
Aside from meeting government leaders from South Africa and Botswana,
Commissioner Ashton will also have a joint meeting with Angolan,
Namibian, and South African (ANSA) ministers while in South Africa and
a meeting with ministers from the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) while in Botswana.
Speaking ahead of the trip, Commissioner Ashton said:Â "I want to
engage with Southern African countries so that we can all gain more
from our economic relationship.Â I am particularly committed to
discussing South Africa’s concerns over our Economic Partnership
Agreement while in Cape Town.Â I am keen to express our commitment to
Travelling to Gaborone, today, Commissioner Ashton is due to meet with
Trade and Industry Minister Neo Moroka and Foreign Minister Phandu
Skelemani.Â Â Minister Moroka has also invited ministers from SADC to
meet with Commissioner Ashton while she is in Gaborone.
Commissioner Ashton said:Â "Botswana has played a key role in
co-ordinating discussions in the region.Â I look forward to talking
with President Khama and Minister Moroka about our future
EPA Negotiations with members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) group of countries were launched in 2004.
In 2007 South Africa joined as an official member of the "SADC EPA"
Group.Â An interim EPA was initialled at the end of 2007 with Botswana,
Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Angola can join the agreement, but as a Least Developed Country (LDC)
in the meantime maintains full market access through the EU’s
Everything But Arms (EBA) provision.Â
The EU and South Africa signed the Trade, Development and Co-operation
Agreement (TDCA) in 1999. The objective of the TDCA is to create a
free-trade area between South Africa and the EU over a period of 12
years, with the EU opening its market at a faster pace.
At the same time, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), consisting
of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland now provides
for a deeper level of integration amongst some of the countries of the
SADC grouping.Â One of the key challenges in implementing an EPA with
SADC is to reconcile these various trade relationships.