Trade experts highlighted various Brexit scenarios that could affect SA exports to Europe and the UK after January 31, when Britain is due to leave the EU. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency
Cape Town - Trade experts on Wednesday highlighted various Brexit scenarios that could affect South African exports to Europe and the UK after January 31, when Britain is due to leave the EU.
At a Brexit seminar organised by Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, chief executive Tim Harris said the fact that the venue was packed was “a strong signal of how important understanding and navigating Brexit is for the Western Cape”.
“We must ensure we maintain our position as an exporter, and as a destination market for tourism and investment.
“This kind of seminar is exactly the way to ensure that we are informed enough as a province and as a city to turn Brexit from a threat and a risk into an opportunity,” he said.
Department of Trade and Industry chief director for international trade and economic development, Niki Kruger, provided an update of the new Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique trade agreement with the UK, which comes into effect once the UK has left the EU.
Kruger said: “Our relations with the EU underpin what we’ve agreed with the UK. When the UK leaves the EU it will have specific consequences for the agreement we’ve negotiated. In essence, this means the current agreement we have with the EU will stay in place as will our trade with the UK, until the end of 2020.”
The British High Commission sent first secretary of economic diplomacy Nigel Dickerson and regional trade policy adviser Alex Lau. Dickerson said the seminar was “a reminder to us that our relationship extends beyond Pretoria, beyond Gauteng and into all the provinces of South Africa”.
Speaking about the UK’s EU Withdrawal Process and its implications for South African exporters, Lau said: “The first thing to note is the EU Withdrawal Act, the effect of which was to take all EU law and transpose it into UK law from the moment of the UK’s withdrawal. The effect of this that whenever the UK leaves the EU, the UK’s laws, standards, regulations, bio security, food laws etc will be exactly the same as when the UK was in the EU.”