The United Kingdom (UK) and members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have agreed to continue discussions to explore ways to ensure that the existing trade arrangement between the two currently governed by the EU-SADC EPA will not be disrupted by the UK’s departure from the EU.
In a joint statement, SACU) and the UK’s Department of International Trade says, talks are likely to focus on steps to agree on an arrangement that replicates the effects of the economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) once the UK has left the EU.
The EPA between the SADC EPA countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland) and the European Union (EU) was signed on 10 June 2016 in Kasane, Botswana.
The EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-SADC EPA) provisionally entered into force between the SACU countries and the EU on October 10, 2016.
The statement says that while the UK remains a member of the EU, the EU-SADC EPA will continue to apply to trade between the SADC EPA countries and the UK.
“The UK is in the process of exiting the EU. The SACU Ministers welcomed the UK’s intention to avoid disruption for its trading partners as it withdraws from the EU. The UK re-affirmed its commitment to the trade arrangement under the current EU-SADC EPA 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,” reads the statement.
It says given Mozambique’s participation in the SADC EPA, the Ministers agreed to continue discussions on how best to work with that country, in order to ensure continuity of the EPA for all partners.
The EU has been widely held as the world’s best functioning political economic union model and last year’s withdrawal of the UK from the EU sent shockwaves of political and economic uncertainty all over the word.
For SADC, there are serious implications that free access to the UK market that it has enjoyed could come to an end once the British are completely out of the EU in the next year.
It will mean that new trade deals and arrangements will have to be made with the UK in the years ahead, which could take time.
Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa are major meat exporters to the EU, whose sales office for the EU is in Essex, UK.
Of the SADC countries, the South African economy could have the most negative impact because of its strong linkage to the UK and because it is the most exposed to the global economy.
The Britons voted on June 28, 2016 to leave the EU, following 2015’s Conservative election victory, which activated a manifesto pledging to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017.