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Trade agreement with EU boosting Western Cape exports

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and six Southern African countries has been a boost for the Western Cape, with strong gains for the wine and fishing industries since it came into effect in October 2016. 

The EPA between the EU and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member countries – South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland – plus Mozambique, allows increased market access for exports.

Wine remains the Western Cape’s leading export to the EU, followed by grapes, citrus, apples and pears, and fish products. Apricots, cherries and peaches, diamonds, engine parts, fruit and nuts and molluscs complete the list of top exports.

According to an article by, 30% of the Western Cape’s overall exports were to Europe, with 17% going to Asia, 10% to North and South America and 40% staying within the African continent.

Western Cape exporters in 2018 will be involved in an array of trade exhibitions and missions, in countries ranging from Austria and Germany to Sweden, France, the UK and the Netherlands.

The SADC-EU EPA replaces the EU’s Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement. Under the new agreement, 98.7% of South Africa’s exports into the EU will enter duty free.

Trade expert Catherine Grant Makokera said that exports played an extremely important role in economic activity and employment creation in South Africa.

“An estimated 1.23-million jobs in the South African economy – or more than 10% of total employment – is directly related to exports. The figure jumps to 2.53-million or 21.45% of overall employment if indirect jobs are taken into account.”

South Africa is the EU’s largest trading partner in Africa.

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