Trade is an important aspect in bi- and multilateral relations and has an important impact on the development of any country. The EU provided preferential access to its market for decades through the Lomé conventions. However, under the Cotonou Agreement, a new type of regional trading arrangement, known as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) was launched. EPAs are comprehensive trade and development agreements and their objectives are to reduce poverty, diversify economies and create employment through enhanced intra-regional integration and through a carefully managed opening towards the world economy.
Botswana has participated in EPA negotiations with the EU and other Members of the SADC EPA Group, namely Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. These negotiations were concluded in 2014 and the Agreement was signed in Kasane on 10 June 2016.
The agreement was signed by Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on behalf of the EU, together with the representative of the EU Presidency.
Commissioner Malmström said: "Trade is a tool to spur economic growth and sustainable development. It's also an important factor for integrating regions and forming stronger bonds between countries. With the Economic Partnership Agreement that we are signing today, we want to base our trade relations with our partners in the Southern African region on commonly agreed, stable rules. Trade has helped lift millions of people from poverty throughout the years. Thanks to agreements like this one, we are preparing the ground for that process to continue."
Botswana ratified the Agreement on 30 June 2016 and the Agreement entered into provisional application on 10 October 2016.