Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana met European Union (EU) ambassador to South Africa Marcus Cornaro on Friday to discuss bilateral trade relations between South Africa and the EU.
“The meeting took place in the context of the entry into force of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA group in October 2016,” the trade and industry department and the EU said in a joint statement.
Both parties agreed that the EPA marked the strengthening of South Africa-EU trade and investment relations. “Its relevance was aptly emphasised in the 2017 state-of-the-nation address.”
Both parties acknowledged that 2016 marked a very good year with bilateral volumes of exports increasing on both sides only expected to improve in view of the number of new opportunities created by the agreement.
“With regard to poultry, the meeting took place in the context of important job losses in the industry, public protests, and massive media coverage. The ministers emphasised the importance of the poultry sector to rural development and the revitalisation of agriculture and the agro-processing value-chain. The ministers highlighted the measures implemented by government to date which aim to address the challenges facing the industry in totality,” the statement said.
The meeting recognised the crisis in the poultry industry as being complex and thus offered a platform to exchange views on the problems faced by the industry, which included structural and competitiveness issues as well as increased imports.
“The EU ambassador underlined that the EU was of the view that the crisis is caused more by the structural challenges affecting the poultry sector rather than by EU imports. The ambassador also expressed the EU’s support to the restructuring of the industry and recalled that exports of South African poultry to the EU are an opportunity which should be pursued.”
Both parties expressed goodwill to help facilitate market access and to enhance their co-operation on sanitary and phytosanitary issues (SPS). The EU and South Africa were further committed to engage in outreach activities, sectors analyses, tackling trade barriers, and smoothing trade flows to help business take full advantage of the EPA, the statement said.