Gaborone - The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has finally signed a deal that will allow trade with the United Kingdom to continue seamlessly whether or not that country leaves the European Union.
The SACU + Mozambique bloc has been in negotiations with the UK since that country accelerated its plans to leave the EU, a move colloquially known as Brexit. Trade ministers from all the countries recently met in Botswana to finalise arrangements for a post-Brexit deal.
According to a communiqué seen by The Southern Times dated 10 October, the Ministers responsible for Trade and Industry and authorised representatives from the SACU member states, Mozambique and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, met on 9 October 2019, in London, United Kingdom, to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement.
“The agreement is intended to provide continuity and certainty in trade amongst the parties, when the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union,” states the communiqué.
The communiqué explains that SACU member states (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) and Mozambique on the one part, and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on the other part, concluded the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement on 8 September 2019, in Gaborone, Botswana.
It further states that the agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding were signed by Bogolo Kenewendo, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana; Christian Nkambule, High Commissioner of Eswatini to the United Kingdom; Rethabile Mokaeane, High Commissioner of Lesotho to the United Kingdom; Tjekero Tweya, Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development of Namibia; Filipe Chidumo, High Commissioner of Mozambique to the United Kingdom; Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, and Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade of the United Kingdom.
“The signature of the Economic Partnership Agreement solidifies the strong trade relations and partnership between the SACU member states, Mozambique, and the United Kingdom. It also reflects the commitment on both sides, to maintain a strong trading relationship as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union,” the communiqué states.
The ministers reaffirmed the importance of ensuring a smooth implementation of the agreement to achieve its intended objectives, through the finalisation of the ratification processes.
The SACU + Mozambique bloc has been in negotiations with the UK since that country accelerated its plans to leave the EU.
In a statement, Truss said the agreement would benefit British businesses but also support developing countries in reducing poverty through trade.
“They will be able to grow their economies, create jobs and increase incomes for their citizens,” she said.
Reports indicate that trade between the UK and SACU+ Mozambique nations was worth £9.7 billion.