The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has welcomed the UK’s intention of preventing disruption of trade relations with other countries as it leaves the European Union (EU). This was affirmed in a Joint Statement issued by SACU and the UK following discussions between Trade Ministers from the two parties in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“The UK re-affirmed its commitment to the trade arrangement under the current EU-SADC [Southern African Development Community] EPA [Economic Partnership Agreement] and to maintain current market access to the UK following its withdrawal from the EU, and to ensure continuity of the effects of the EU-SADC EPA,” noted the statement. “The two sides agreed to continue discussions to explore ways to ensure that the existing trade arrangement between the UK and SACU currently governed by the EU-SADC EPA will not be disrupted by the UK’s departure from the EU, and to ensure continuity of the effects of the EU-SADC EPA.”
These discussions will likely be of a technical nature to guarantee the continuation of the current trade arrangements, ensuring the replication of the EPA. They would not involve any renegotiation of the trading relationship.
The SACU member States were represented at the talks by their Ministers responsible for trade policy. For Botswana, this was Trade and Industry Minister Vincent Seretse; for Namibia, Industrialisation, Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko; for South Africa, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies; and for Swaziland, Commerce and Trade Minister Jabulani Mabuza, while Lesotho was represented by its Principal Secretary of Trade and Industry, Fusi Notoane, standing in for his Minister. The UK was represented by Minister of State for Trade Policy, Lord Price.
Although not a member of SACU, Mozambique took part in the talks, represented by its High Commissioner in Pretoria, PJ Macaringue. “Given Mozambique’s participation in the SADC EPA, the Ministers agreed to continue discussions on how best to work with Mozambique, in order to ensure continuity of the EPA for all partners,” reported the statement.