25 May 2006
South Africa is a key partner in two new trade programmes designed to increase trade between SA and its neighbours and give emerging farmers in the region access to Europe’s supermarkets.
The two programmes, supported by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) and backed by £4.5-million (R56-million) in British funding, were announced by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and South Africa President Thabo Mbeki following their meeting in London on Wednesday.
According to the Cape Argus, the first, four-year programme will see British and South African supermarkets helping vegetable farmers in southern African countries to meet the quality standards required by EU markets.
The programme aims to increase the sourcing of products by SA supermarkets from neighbouring countries by 30% by 2010, and to increase international retail sector purchases of high-value agricultural products from southern Africa by 5%.
The second programme aims to reduce waiting times at border posts for both smaller traders and larger businesses moving goods between South Africa and Lesotho, South Africa and Mozambique, and Zambia and Zimbabwe.
According to The Herald, the programme, backed by £500 000 (R6.2-million) of legal and practical support from Britain’s DFID, will also involve the SA Revenue Service and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
The programme aims to help cut waiting times at the three border posts – among the busiest in southern Africa – by at least 30% by 2010.
“If Africa is to achieve the growth necessary to meet the key Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people in poverty by 2015, the business environment must improve,” Mbeki and Blair said in a joint statement after their meeting.
“Today’s trade agreement takes southern Africa another step towards a better business climate.”