Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has expressed concern on the increase in barriers to international trade.
Minister Davies was speaking at the 20th African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Ministerial Committee in Brussels, Belgium. He said “sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and standards are increasingly barriers to international trade and this affects small and medium enterprises”, in particular.
In a bilateral meeting between the Minister and European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström earlier this week, the need to assist small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) to make use of the market openings created by the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was highlighted. Specific reference was made on the need to enable SMMEs to meet the SPS and standard requirements to enter the EU market.
Since 2002, the EU has been negotiating EPAs with the ACP countries, in different regions. The SADC EPA, of which South Africa is part, is the first full agreement to be concluded and it provisionally entered into force on 10 October 2016. This agreement offers SA an opportunity to improve preferential market access previously offered under the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA).The ACP Ministers also took part in the 15th Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee (JMTC) meeting today. Some of the issues raised include issues of protectionism, EPAs and Brexit state of play.
The upcoming 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) that is scheduled to take place from 10-13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina was also discussed at the meeting. The Ministers also adopted an ACP Declaration that defines a common position for the group’s participation at the conference.
Ministers reiterated their commitment to the development mandate of the Doha Development Agenda which includes completion of outstanding work on trade that hinders local support measures for agriculture, cotton, public stockholding, fisheries subsidies, as well as Special and Differential treatment provisions.