UK minister in trade talks with SACU for continuity post Brexit
The British Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, Lord Price, arrived in South Africa earlier this week for a high-level meeting with representatives of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to ensure that existing trade agreement do not founder in the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.
On Wednesday Lord Price met in Johannesburg with ministers Immanuel Ngatjizeko of Namibia, VT Seretse of Botswana, Dr R Davies of South Africa, JC Mabuza of Swaziland, F Notoane of Lesotho, and the High Commissioner of Mozambique to South Africa, P Macaringue to discuss trade relationships between the region and the United Kingdom.
All SACU member states plus Mozambique enjoy tax-exempt export access to the United Kingdom under the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. Recalling the many obstacles that had to be overcome before this agreement was signed, Lord Price said in a statement that a renewal of trade agreements with the UK must be viewed as a technical exercise instead of an opportunity to renegotiate.
“The two sides [after Wednesday’s meeting in Johannesburg] 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. Talks are likely to focus on steps to agree an arrangement that replicates the effects of the EPA once the UK has left the EU. This would be a technical exercise to ensure continuity in the trading relationship, rather than an opportunity to renegotiate existing terms” according to the statement co-signed by the Botswana Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Hon VT Seretse, and Lord Price.
“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.
Lord Price arrived in Namibia on Thursday morning to continue detailed discussions with the Namibian Government on the nuts and bolts of Namibian exports to the UK and the EU. Namibia exports significant volumes of beef duty-free to the EU via London.