17 June 1998
EU sets deadline for free trade
agreement with South Africa

EUROPEAN UNION (EU) leaders set an autumn deadline yesterday for agreement on creating a wide-ranging free trade area with South Africa.

The breakthrough came after more than three years of difficult talks.

The EUs latest offer pledges to open up 95% of its markets in 10 years, while Pretoria has offered to open up 85% of South Africas markets in return.

Petorias offer includes increased product coverage, speedier dismantling of tariffs and reduced tariffs on some sensitive products. But the offer is conditional on corresponding improvements by the EU. South Africa, in particular, wants greater access for its farm goods. EU foreign ministers will examine the latest South African offer on 29 June.

  • Financial Times 17/06/98 page 6