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For their series of meetings in Eswatini the two EU senior officials were accompanied by the EU Ambassador resident in Eswatini H.E. Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones and by the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Mbabane Ms Ariane Labat.
The EU mission met with His Majesty the King upon their arrival to the Kingdom. They also met bilaterally with the Prime Minister, as well as with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Economic Planning and Minister of Agriculture. The EU Delegation had a working lunch on Saturday 30 March with 6 key Cabinet Ministers: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Economic Planning, Minister of Finance, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Trade and Minister of Justice.
The EU mission also had meetings with private sector namely Bussiness Eswatini and several representatives of civil society of Eswatini.
During different meetings and interlocutors from the Kingdom of Eswatini, the EU mission explained the context of the mission at the eve of new European Election in May 2019 that will be followed by nomination of a new European Commission, new President and new Commissioners as well as a new EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Vice president of the European Commission. Moreover the ongoing negotiations on post-Cotonou agreement should propose a new legal and political framework ruling the EU relations with ACP countries as from 2020 and onwards. The EU values the partnership with the Kingdom of Eswatini and the EU HQ mission is a proof of it. The new Africa EU is Alliance is the current strategic framework in which the relationship will evolve with the strategic direction to create jobs and growth in the country, and African region will be a priority for the EU assistance.
The EU stressed the support to the new Government of Eswatini and congratulated for some reforms already put in place as austerity measures and zero tolerance to corruption. Further reforms will be welcomed both in economy along the announced economic strategy recovery of the Government and also on good governance fields.
The EU stressed the need to have transparent budget of the State and discipline on public finances management. The IMF last assessment recommendations for the country were also on the talks.
On taxes issues the EU reminded the 3 benchmarks the Kidgom of Eswatini has committed with the EU to comply by end 2019: 1.- To be member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. 2.- to commit to sign and ratify the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC), 3.- To join the Inclusive Framework on BEPS or commit to the minimum standard and to communicate the timeline for doing so.
The EU underlined the political importance to comply with these benchmarks, to continue benefiting from EIB assistance and to attract FDI.
The attraction of investors and the dinamisation of the private sector were at the center of main talks. The interaction with the bilateral EU Member States Chambers of Commerce based in Johannesburg (i.e.: Germany, France, Spain) was also recommended as a way to attract EU investors to Eswatini.
The European Partnership Agreement on Trade (EPA) with SADC (EU-SADC EPA) and the Eswatini Strategy to fully benefit of it was also on the talks. The EU has granted 6 million Euros to Eswatini to fully implement its strategy.
The potentiality of agriculture sector and the development of the full agriculture value chain were highlighted. The Swati women contribution on Agriculture field in the country was recognized as well as the need to protect and empower them. Of note the EU is providing a current assistance on Agriculture of near 45M euros.
The Sexual offence and domestic violence Act was commended and the need for it's full implementation also in rural areas where the women are contributing to the agriculture development of the country was emphasized. The overall need to curb gender violence in the country was underscored.
The EU took duly note during the talks about the Eswatini,s need of Digitalisation in several sectors of the Administration including Justice and Home Affairs.
Both parties were satisfied with the talks during the mission and committed to fortify relations and partnership.