Botswana-UK-Africa Summit-EPAs

Botswana: Africa advised not close door on EPAs

APA-Gaborone-(Botswana)

An economic expert has advised Africa not to close its door on Economic Partnership Agreements which they have negotiated with the European Union (EU), APA can reveal here on Sunday.

Commenting on the ongoing United Kingdom-Africa Investment Summit in London, a public financial expert at the University of Botswana (now on sabbatical leave at the National University of Lesotho, 2019-2020) Professor Emmanuel Botlhale noted that the BREXIT story is still unfolding, therefore, it was very difficult to state trading opportunities that will ensue from the same.

"However, one can only hope that the summit will be a win-win situation where there is a reciprocal opening of markets. However, African nations shouldn't close the door on EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements) they have negotiated with the EU. On the whole, EPAs have been beneficial to African economies," he said.

Reports indicate that historically, the UK used to have a strong trading relationship with Botswana and Africa in general but she seems to have been eclipsed by other developed economies in this regard and expectation is that the summit would bring this relationship closer.

According to Botlhale, with BREXIT, the UK finds itself on the back foot since it won't have unfettered access to the EU market, therefore, it is in a dire need of an expanded market.

On whether the Summit would result in employment and involvement opportunities for the continent, Botlhale said it was trite that rather than relying on foreign aid, Africa must trade itself out of poverty and unemployment, therefore, new and expanded trade is one opportunity to deal with macro-economic problems such as unemployment and poverty.

Botlhale said for a long time, African countries have been getting the short end of the stick in the sense that while they have opened their economies to markets in the north, the latter has not reciprocated.

"Instead, African exports have had to deal with tariff and non-tariff barriers with the result that they face massive trade imbalances. Therefore, one can only hope that the UK-Africa summit will be premised on very equal and reciprocal trade deals," he said.

Also, Botlhale said, while it will benefit African economies to negotiate trade deals with markets in the north, for example UK-Africa summit, there are still huge benefits from south-south trade since Africa is on the economic rise. Thereford, south-south trade should be put on the same pedestal with south-north trade.

 "Africa, whose economies are on the ascendancy despite post-2017 fiscal challenges, offer such an opportunity. However, trade deals can only be meaningful and beneficial to Africa if and when they are based on a win-win formula," he said.

He added that "So, assuming a win-win basis, the summit will very favourably circumstance both parties to benefit from an expanded trade volume."

KO/abj/APA

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