Customs Union

Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Customs Union.

South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Duty free movement of goods with a common external tariff on goods entering any of the countries from outside the SACU.

All products.

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

Southern African, Development, Community (SADC) FTA.

Free Trade Agreement.

Between 12 SADC Member States.

A FTA, with 85% duty-free trade achieved in 2008. The 15% of trade, constituting the “sensitive list”, is expected to be liberalised from 2009 to 2012 when SADC attains the status of a fully-fledged FTA with almost all tariff lines traded duty free.

Most products.

Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA).

Free Trade Agreement.

South Africa and the European Union (EU).

The EU offered to liberalise 95% of its duties on South African originating products by 2010. In turn, by 2012, South Africa offered to liberalise 86% of its duties on EU originating products.

There is currently a review of the agreement underway, which is aimed at broadening the scope of product coverage. This is taking place under the auspices of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between SADC and the EU.

EFTA-SACU Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

Free Trade Agreement

SACU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) -Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

Tariff reductions on selected goods

Industrial goods (including fish and other marine products) and processed agricultural products. Basic agricultural products are covered by bilateral agreements with individual EFTA States

Economic Partnership Agreement.

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique (referred to as the SADC EPA Group) and the European Union (EU).

SA’s core interest has been to harmonise trading regime between SACU and the EU; to secure further market access in agriculture (beyond the SA-EU Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) provisions) and claw back on some policy space lost under the TDCA.

The agreement covers most products. It will replace the Trade Chapter of the TDCA. New market access accrued better than the TDCA will be implemented after entry into force of the SADC-EU EPA.

Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)

About 1,000 product lines on each side of the border.

Preferential Trade Agreement.

SACU and Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Tariff reductions on selected goods. It is not expected to enter into force before some time in 2012.

About 1,000 product lines on each side of the border.

Zimbabwe/South Africa bilateral trade agreement.

Bilateral Preferential Trade Agreement.

South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Preferential rates of duty, rebates and quotas on certain goods traded between the two countries.

Selected goods. A most recent version of the agreement was signed in August 1996, which lowers tariffs and quotas on textile imports into South Africa.

Non-Reciprocal Trade Arrangements

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

Unilateral preferences granted under the enabling clause of the WTO that are not contractually binding upon the benefactors.

Offered to South Africa as developing country by the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, the US, Canada and Japan.

Products from developing countries qualify for preferential market access.

Specified industrial and agricultural products.

Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Unilateral assistance measure.

Granted by the US to 39 Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countriese US, Canada and Japan.

Preferential access to the US market through lower tariffs or no tariffs on some products.

Duty free access to the US market under the combined AGOA/GSP programme stands at approximately 7,000 product tariff lines.

Other Agreements


Cooperative framework agreement


Makes provision for the parties to negotiate and sign agreements relating to sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (SPS), customs cooperation and technical barriers to trade (TBT). It also establishes a forum of engagement of any matters of mutual interest, including capacity-building and trade and investment promotion.


Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Bilateral agreement.

South Africa and US.

Provides a bilateral forum for the two countries to address issues of interest, including AGOA, TIDCA, trade and investment promotion, non-tariff barriers, SPS, infrastructure and others.


Current Trade Negotiations


Preferential Trade Agreement.

SACU and India.

Tariff reductions on selected goods.

Tariff reductions on selected goods.


Free Trade Agreement.

26 countries with a combined GDP of US$860 billion and a combined population of approximately 590 million people.

The Tripartite Framework derives its basis from the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC), which requires rationalisation of the continent’s regional economic communities. The FTA will be negotiated over the next three years, with the possibility of an additional two years for completion.

The Tripartite initiative comprises three pillars that will be pursued concurrently, in order to ensure an equitable spread of the benefits of regional integration: market integration, infrastructure development and industrial development. The FTA will, as a first phase, cover only trade in goods; services and other trade-related areas will be covered in a second phase.

Unilateral Agreements

The African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA)

Unilateral Agreements.

The African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) AGOA provides for duty free access to the US market for sub-Saharan African countries.

Currently South Africa enjoys these benefits, however, there are political lobbyists in the US that feel that South Africa should not enjoy the same benefits as the less developed countries in Africa by virtue of its per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The South African government is busy assisting industry in motivating for continued benefits for South Africa and for the continuation of the AGOA benefit in general.

The Doha rand may be concluded in Barley later this year, with smaller issues being agreed, such as: common internal standards for customs management and control, and CoOL.