South African Elections: EU offers helping hand on trade

LUXEMBOURG - South Africa is to receive extra economic concessions after the election to help boost its economy, the European Union decided yesterday. A package of measures will include the lifting of all apartheid-era sanctions, new trade accords to ease imports, cash to boost European investment and possibly loans from the EU's in-house bank for business, writes Andrew Marshall.

'The Union intends to send a strong political signal to the incoming government and to the South African population,' a declaration agreed yesterday said.

The measures reflect the European intention to build a strong relationship with post-apartheid South Africa, capitalising on existing trade and cultural ties with both Britain and the Netherlands. It is a function of the increased global competition for markets that Europe is competing for influence in the country.

But it will come with strings attached: the deal will be conditional on respect for human rights. The EU also wants to help the countries of southern Africa, and the package includes measures to ensure they are not disadvantaged by comparison and will be able to share in trade benefits.