The EU has indicated that after 2008 its trade relationships with developing countries will be dominated by the development of preferential trade agreements. Although not a consequence of the Cotonou Agreement, the free trade agreement between the EU and the Republic of South Africa (EU RSA FTA) is clearly one of the first fruits of this approach to trade relationships. However, there is no evidence that the design of the EU RSA FTA incorporated a comprehensive general equilibrium evaluation of the agreement for either the signatories or the other southern African nations. The analyses reported here indicate that while the EU RSA FTA may substantially benefit the signatories, there are appreciable negative impacts for other states, especially the RSA’s immediate neighbours. Moreover, the reluctance of the EU to fully liberalise trade in food and agriculture commodities results in a major reduction in the benefits for the RSA without ameliorating substantively the adverse implications for other nations.


Preferential arrangements, European Union, Sub-Saharan Africa

Date of this Version

January 2003