The Trade Department in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade recently engaged stakeholders to validate the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Strategy and Action Plan.

This was during a one-day workshop held at the Happy Valley Resorts on Friday November 2, 2018. The strategy formulation process was sponsored by the European Union.

Speaking on behalf of the EU Delegation in Eswatini, Economist Nomfundo Dlamini said the agreement not only provided free access to EU markets but also strengthened relations between the EU and the kingdom of Eswatini.

“The EU envisions that this agreement is not only a dormant paper but it delivers concrete benefits especially to the people of Eswatini. We have extended our support to SACU states, including Eswatini to put the agreement into action by assisting Eswatini to develop a strategy and action plan,” Dlamini said.

She added that the EU has set aside a total of 6Million Euros to support the activities identified in the action plan.

“The only requirement to access these funds is to have a nationally endorsed policy framework in place. I am happy with the progress Eswatini has made to formulate a plan. I thank colleagues for their expertise and support to the Ministry in ensuring that the strategy is reflective of the challenges of the business environment, especially the exporting,” she said.

Dlamini said this project was important to the EU because it was in line with the SDG Goal 17 which calls for the revitalization of the global partnership for sustained development as well as Goal 18 which speaks to the promotion of sustained and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

“I am saying this to underline that external assistance principles require that our support should align with national priorities as opposed to imposing development strategies for our partner countries. The Delegation will support a plan that closely aligns with Eswatini development priorities,” she added.

She noted that during the recent People’s Parliament proceedings, His Majesty King Mswati III envisioned that the country should use innovation and technology to develop the economy.

“The Delegation would like this to be reflected in the Strategy. Eswatini has a number of traditional products that can be commercialised and exported and yet the country imports over 80% of innovation,” she concluded.

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