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UK remains important trading partner for South Africa

Staff writer ▼ | June 25, 2016
The UK is and will remain an important trading partner for South Africa despite its decision to withdraw from the EU, the Presidency said on Friday.
Jacob Zuma
South African economy   Brexit will not impact trade with Africa
South Africa, through the Department of Trade and Industry, has followed with interest the Brexit referendum in the UK and the final vote to leave the EU, the Presidency.

In 2015, the UK was 8th largest trading partner of South Africa, whose export to the UK was 41 billion rand ($268 million) and imports was 35 billion rand ($224 million), according to the Presidency.

The UK will have a period of two years to negotiate their exit from the EU after formal notice to withdraw from the EU has been given. Until the end of the two-year period, the Common International Trade Policy (CITP) of the EU would continue to apply to SA's exports to the UK.

The CITP includes the current free trade agreement between SA and the EU, called the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). It will also cover the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that was signed on June 10 this year in Botswana. Therefore, UK rights and obligations under the existing EU Treaties will continue to apply during this period.

There will therefore be no immediate implications for SA exports into UK, the Presidency said.

SA/SACU (Southern African Customs Union) and the UK would therefore have at least two years to review their future trade relationship, said the Presidency.

One of the options open to the UK would be to join European Free Trade Area (EFTA). EFTA has a free trade agreement with the EU and forms part of the European Economic Area. Importantly, EFTA also has free trade agreement with the (SACU) that South Africa is part of. SACU and EFTA have already started a review of this agreement.

Another option would be for the UK and SACU to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement and one possibility would be to base it on the EPA, the Presidency said.

"The SA government will consider all the options available and start engagements with the UK," presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.