A group of southern African leaders travelled to London this month to finalise a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. The new deal ensures exports to Britain from Southern African Customs Union (SACU) states + Mozambique continue after the UK leaves the EU this month.
The deal was officially signed in London on October 10, after being initialled by the UK and six southern African countries – Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini – in Botswana’s capital Gaborone on September 10.
The latest agreement ensures “continuity and certainty” in the trading relationship between the UK, Mozambique and SACU countries after the UK exits the EU on October 31, a UK government statement said.
The EU’s existing trade deal with SACU member states, guarantees EU market access without any duties or quotas for Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini.
Before the official signing UK International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss said:
“This trade agreement, once it is signed and takes effect, will allow businesses to keep trading after Brexit without any additional barriers.”
Trade between the UK and the SACU nations was worth £9.7 million in 2018, and includes electronics and food and beverage imports.
“The SACU+M nations are an important market for UK exports of machinery and mechanical appliances worth £409 million in 2018, motor vehicles worth £335 million, and beverages including whisky worth £136 million,” the UK government added.
Leading the negotiations on behalf of southern African nations was Africa’s youngest minister Bogolo Kenewendo, Botswana’s Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry. Hours before signing the agreement, the 32-year-old minister told African Business:
“One of the greatest pleasures I have had is chairing and coordinating trade agreements between SACU countries and Mozambique with the UK.”
UK-Africa trade after Brexit
In preparation for the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK has now signed 16 trade continuity agreements, accounting for £100bn of its external trade.
Earlier this month, the UK signed a trade and political continuity agreement with Tunisia. Trade between the UK and Tunisia was worth £378 million in 2018, an increase of 3% on the previous year. The agreement is subject to domestic procedures in both the UK and Tunisia.
In January this year, the UK signed another Brexit trade continuity agreement with Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, known as the UK-Eastern and Southern African Economic Partnership Agreement (ESA-UK). The trading relationship between the UK and these four countries was worth £1.5 billion in 2017.
“Based on current trade flows, meat and fish exporters in Eastern and Southern Africa could save £30 million a year in tariff charges that could apply if the agreement wasn’t in place, while clothing exporters could save more than £10m and sugar exporters could save around £8m,” said a UK statement at the time.