Saturday 2018-01-20

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SADC SUGAR PRODUCERS LOBBY FOR AN OPTIMAL POST BREXIT TRADE AGREEMENT

By Hlengiwe Ndlovu | 2018-01-12

AMIDST the Brexit whirlwind which will see the United Kingdom exiting the European Union in 2019, the SADC Sugar Producers Consultative Forum (SPCF) has embarked on a lobby campaign for an optimal sugar trade arrangement.

The post Brexit lobby campaign was announced by former Swaziland Sugar Association Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike Matsebula who is now an Independent Economist and Lobbyist yesterday.

Dr Matsebula was one of the presenters in an Economics Association of Swaziland (ECAS) half-day seminar whose main theme was ‘opportunities for optimal trade between SACU/SADC and EU’.

 Said Dr Matsebula said “Presently, commodity (including sugar) trade between SADC countries and UK occurs under the SADC-EU and ESA-EU EPAs.

Sugar enters the EU duty-free quota-free (DFQF) for all SADC countries, except for SA which has a tariff rate quota,” he said, also emphasising the importance of an optimal post Brexit sugar trade agreement in the light of the different parties which would be interested in the UK sugar market.

Dr Matsebula disclosed that SPCF has appointed a consultant to drive the lobby campaign which will work under the immediate supervision of a working group comprising representatives from the different SADC sugar industries.

Messages

One of the key messages that this lobby group will convey is the fact that currently, SADC sugar-producing countries enjoy preferential access into the United Kindgom market under the SADC-EU and ESA-EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and for these countries not to be left worse-off in the post-Brexit era, the effects of the two EPAs must be replicated into UK trade law.

Dr Matsebula expressed the SADC EPA states anticipation of an accurate capture of the effects of the Duty-Free Quota-Free (DFQF) sugar access into the UK enjoyed by Swaziland and Mozambique.

Dr Matsebula said the second most important message that the lobby campaign will send across is the fact that there are threats and opportunities which must be taken into consideration post Brexit and one of these threats is the possibility of a Duty-Free Quota-Free flow of EU sugar into the European market under a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and United Kingdom.

Dr Matsebula said this threat was exacerbated by the condition of the United Kingdom’s sugar deficit condition which stands at 1.1 million tonnes per annum.

opportunity

Meanwhile, Dr Matsebula said a possible opportunity which could arise from the whole Brexit situation is recognition by the United Kingdom’s government that the business sector is critical from the perspective of generating the tax revenues out of which services to uplift social welfare are provided.

In addition, he acknowledged a related opportunity as being  the belief by the United Kingdom’s government that there is no better way of uplifting nations out of poverty other than through trade (as opposed to aid).

“The expectation is that there will always be an element of development incorporated into the UK’s trading relations with SACU/SADC. These opportunities must be seized,” he said.

Other speakers in this seminar were Yash Ramkolowan from Global Economic Governance (GEG), Africa and British High Commission’s Head of Economics and Trade Policy Nigel Dickerson.

Also present in this seminar were Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) Commissioner General Dumsani Masilela, Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director Dr A.T Dlamini, Central Bank of Swaziland Governor Majozi Sithole, Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SEPARC) Executive Director Dr Thulasizwe Dlamini, economists and stakeholders from institutions such as the University of Swaziland, government ministries, parastatals and the private sector.

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