UK minister Lord Price confirmed on Wednesday that the trade relationship between the UK and the Southern African Customs Union countries (SACU) would not be disrupted due to the Brexit process. Last year SADC countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland - signed an the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU.
The UK reaffirmed its commitment to the trade agreement under the current deal and said it would maintain duty-free quota-free market access. “It is important that we ensure that there are no disruptions with the trading relationship with South Africa as well as with other SADC countries. “We have to make sure that nobody suffers because of a gap between us leaving the EU and striving for new deals.”
The discussions between UK and SADC (SACU) countries are focused on steps to agree on a deal that replicates the effects of the EPA once the UK has left the EU. “We have come to a very practical solution that we will maintain what we have today and make sure that it is enforced in April 2018.” The UK is scheduled to leave on EU next March - but it can be extended if all 28 EU members agree.
Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies stated that they all agreed that it would be essential to roll-over the EPA when the UK leaves the EU. “We are essentially looking out for some elements of continuity from the first instance,” said Davies.