M&E system to track impact of SADC-EU EPA

M&EAn independent consultant company has been contracted to produce a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system following the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between six SADC Member States and the European Union (EU). Six SADC Member States (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland) signed the EPA with the EU in June 2016.

This agreement, commonly referred to as the SADC-EU EPA, entered into force on October 10, 2016.  Another SADC Member State, Angola, is an observer and has an option to join the Agreement in future. Under the SADC EPA, the EU grants its SADC counterparts free access to its market. However, the SADC EPA states do not have to respond with the same level of market opening as they can keep tariffs on products that are sensitive to international competition.

The EPA also contains a large number of “safeguards”, which SADC EPA countries can use in case imports from the EU increase to a level where they threaten to disrupt domestic production. The agreement covers trade mainly in agriculture and fisheries, including wine, sugar, fisheries’ products, flowers and canned fruits. Among a number of provisions, the agreement also contains a chapter on sustainable development, and promotes regional integration and cooperation among SADC EPA states, notably by enabling regional value chains through flexible Rules of Origin.

With the support of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) under its programme titled, “Supporting the sustainability aspects in the implementation of the EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA)”, consulting company Imani Development has been engaged to assist in the design of an M&E system of the agreement.

This is a requirement stipulated under Article 4. The design process began with a one-day consultative meeting, on December 11, 2017, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The objective of the meeting was to solicit inputs from stakeholders to guide the design of an M&E facility that would assist in tracking the operationalisation and impact of the agreement.

Participants included representatives of the EU, GIZ, SADC Secretariat, private sector, civil society and non-state actors (including SACAU), and SADC EPA member states. The meeting commended the participation and contribution of civil society in the design process and noted that CSOs play a vital role in monitoring the impact of trade initiatives on socio-economic development and advocating for delivery of benefits across all stakeholders, particularly the most vulnerable groups.

However, it also noted the need to harmonise inputs from EU and SADC based civil society and non-state actors. This is one of the roles the consultant is expected to play as part of the M&E design process. To better understand the M&E development process, participants discussed possible indicators to track developments under a number of areas of cooperation, including; trade and sustainable development, trade and development cooperation, trade in goods, and trade defence. From these discussions, it was agreed that M&E activities under the agreement should not be restricted at the regional level as the impact is expected at national level.

SADC EPA member states, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, are expected to identify and agree on appropriate context-specific indicators that can reveal whether commitments under the agreement are being adhered to. It was also agreed that selected indicators should be aligned with current global, regional and national initiatives. From this meeting, the consultant is expected to produce an inception report by January 12, 2018, consult with relevant regional and national stakeholders, design an M&E system and present an interim report by the beginning of March 2018. A final report, which should incorporate inputs from all stakeholders is expected by March 30, 2018.