21 October 1998
EU agricultural lobby scuppers South Africa deal

THE European Unions agricultural lobby sabotaged the final stages of negotiations on a trade agreement between the South Africa and the European Union (EU), reports the Financial Times.

Talks broke up because the EU failed to improve its market access offer for Pretorias farm exports. The EU is also alleged to have unexpectedly linked free trade discussions with separate negotiations on a wine and spirits agreement.

The EU was apparently determined to set a tough deal because it would become a precedent for similar agreements with Mercosur and Chile.

The EU was offering to allow 62% of South Africas agricultural exports to enter the EU duty-free after 10 years. It currently allows 18% in duty free.

Both sides are still trying to reach a compromise.