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Cape Town - Negotiators for Southern African states have agreed a new trade pact with the European Union which will give the countries a bigger market for food exports, South Africa's trade and industry department said.

The Economic Partnership Agreement, which has been in the pipeline for a decade, comes in time to beat an October 1 deadline which would have seen Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland lose preferential EU access for their beef, fish and sugar.

If ratified by the governments involved, the deal will allow South Africa to export 110 million litres of wine, 150,000 tonnes of sugar and 80,000 tonnes of ethanol duty free to the EU, among other concessions.

“There is also improved access for our exports of flowers, some dairy, fruit and fruit products,” the trade and industry department said in a statement. - Reuters