US, SACU talks to focus on NAMA, work plan for future issues

15 September, 2005

A U.S. trade official said the U.S. and the South African Customs Union will restart negotiations on a free trade agreement later this month in Botswana with discussions on non-agricultural market access. At that meeting, negotiators will also try to develop a work plan on how future negotiations will tackle the difficult issues that have stalled the talks for the last year.

Such a work plan could include an order for taking up the most difficult chapters in phase two of the negotiations, according to Assistant U.S.

Trade Representative for African Affairs Florizelle Liser. They include services, government procurement, labor and environment, she said on Sept. 14 following a conference on the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Liser said SACU negotiators would meet in Botswana Sept. 27-29. This NAMA round will be followed by rounds on agricultural market access and apparel and textiles, she said.

The two sides will hold "mini-rounds" to negotiate on one or two chapters at a time before moving on to other topics, according to Liser.

U.S. and SACU negotiators plan to meet every 6-10 weeks with the goal of completing the FTA by December 2006, Liser said.