A delegation of members representing the International Trade (INTA) Committee of the European Parliament, the committee responsible for giving consent to the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between the European Union and partner countries and for monitoring the EPA, undertook a working-visit to South Africa from 29 – 31 October. The visit partly coincided with a parallel visit of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with South Africa, which culminated in the 26th SA-EU Inter-Parliamentary meeting in Cape Town.

The visit of the INTA delegation, led by Marietje Schaake, offered an ideal opportunity to assess the implementation of the SADC EPA and its contribution to sustainable and inclusive growth in the country, in particular ahead of the Presidential Summit held in Brussels on 15 November.

Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan

29 October, Department of Public Enterprise

The INTA delegation kicked-off their visit to South Africa with a high-level meeting with Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan. The Minister provided a good account of the efforts to bring back stability to State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), through handling the past, reforming management and looking at future models.

The meeting further focused on issues of mutual interest, specifically relating to public procurement and localisation policy; and how the Department is tackling state capture.

Empowering Women Through Trade

29 October, 1230-1500, Wanderers Club Johannesburg

Considering that gender equality is one of the fundamental values of the European Union as well as of South Africa and the region in general, the EU delegation facilitated the "Empowering Women Through Trade" roundtable event, in association with the Black Business Council, think tanks and other associations. The platform was an opportunity for participants, including the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), to exchange ideas and experiences on how to make trade truly inclusive; how to create a framework to enhance women’s economic empowerment and increase their participation in trade.

The event reinforced the EU's commitment to promoting gender equality in all its activities, including trade policies and was an opportunity for MEPs to gain valuable insight into local experiences and challenges related specifically to gender and trade; and provided participants with important take-aways from both the European and South African perspective respectively.

Networking Engagement with EU Business

29 October, Dinner reception, EU Residence

Members were invited to a business networking function hosted by the European Union Ambassador to South Africa, Marcus Cornaro, at the official EU Embassy in Pretoria. A number of EU business representatives, including the European Chamber of Commerce in South Africa, EU Member State's bilateral Chambers of Commerce as well as members of the European Diplomatic Corps were in attendance. This was an opportunity for EU business in South Africa to engage and discuss with the MEPs on matters of EPA implementation amongst others.

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Mining Event

30 October, Morning

The delegation visited one of the largest open-air platinum mines in the world where they were able to engage with mine management on the various sustainability measures the mine is initiating as well as engage with representatives of local communities on their rights and aspirations. A number of topics directly affecting the local communities were covered, providing a unique insight into environmental and social implications of mining and how these can be addressed.

Land Reform Event

30 October, dinner

Members attended a Land Reform Panel in Cape Town together with the IPM Delegation, a very important topic in South Africa currently. The event which was attended by many eminent local experts on the topic and touched on aspects including the way forward on the land question in South Africa; land reform and redistribution; and the associated business perspective.

Meetings in the Parliament of South Africa (together with EP-SA IPM)

Honourable Fubbs, Chairperson of the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee

31 October, morning

Thokozani Wine Farm visit

31 October, afternoon

Thokozani Wine Farm, located on the Diemersfontein Wine Farm in Wellington in the Western Cape was visited by the INTA delegation to witness first-hand a successful empowerment programme in the wine industry; including women participation in wine production; and ethical wine production practices in South Africa.

"South Africa's trade with the EU in wine and spirits contribute to the transformation of the wines and spirits industry by creating new opportunities for emerging and previously disadvantaged individuals, including black-owned brands, black farmers and black owners."

This visit provided another opportunity for the INTA delegation members to engage on EPA implementation issues, specifically on Geographical Indicators (GIs) and EU funding activities in the wine production industry.

The visit to South Africa allowed members to take stock of the provisional application of the SADC-EU EPA across various sectors and to observe how it is being applied in practice through realities on the ground. Furthermore, it allowed the delegation to gain an understanding as to how the trade agreement is impacting on South African society as a whole, which is a significant consideration in line with the Trade for All strategy of the European Union.