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New EU offer in SADC EPA negotiations in efforts to break deadlock

In an effort to move forward the SADC EPA negotiations, the EU has offered South Africa improved access for its sugar and wine exports, a long-standing demand of the South African authorities in the SADC EPA negotiations. According to a Reuters report, the EU has offered a duty-free quota for sugar that "will fall short of South Africa's demands for a 320,000-tonne-a-year sugar quota".

On wine, the report notes that the EU "will propose expanding South Africa's duty-free access of around 95 million litres a year", adding that in 2012 South Africa exported nearly 410 million litres of wine, some 65% of it destined for the European market (266 million litres).

The report commented that "it is not immediately clear when South Africa would start enjoying increased access to the European Union, but [EU Trade Commissioner] De Gucht is believed to want to conclude negotiations early [in 2014]".

The EU offer to South Africa on sugar needs to be seen against the background of the declining share of preferred ACP/LDC suppliers of EU sugar imports: sugar statistics published by the EC in November 2013 showed that in 2012/13, ACP/LDC suppliers accounted for only 52.5% of total EU sugar imports. Of non ACP/LDC suppliers in 2012/13, 783,000 tonnes came from Brazil, 326,000 tonnes from Balkan suppliers and 631,000 tonnes from various other suppliers.