Progress made in regional, UK trade deal

As parties acknowledge importance of time-bound commitments

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – Major progress is being made by members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Mozambique and the United Kingdom’s Economic Partnership Agreement (SACUM-UK EPA) to develop the rules of procedure for the institutions established under the pact. This will include the appointment of arbitrators in preparation for the first meeting of the Joint Council.

This was revealed during the first meeting of the Trade and Development Committee under the agreement recently, with Lesotho also participating by virtue of being an affiliate of SACU. “The parties further agreed to exchange views on issues to be considered by Special Committees on trade facilitation and customs cooperation, geographical indications and trade in wine and spirits and the agricultural partnership to facilitate the convening of the first meetings of these special committees,” SACU said in a statement on Tuesday this week.

The parties further acknowledged the importance of time-bound commitments provided for under the agreement including in relation to the review of regional accumulation, developing work programmes on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) matters as well as the scope and volume under the automatic derogations. They also provided information on their respective tariff rate quota usage and administration. SACUM-UK EPA was signed on October 9, 2019 in London United Kingdom (UK).

The agreement entered into force on January 1, 2021, following the end of the UK’s transition period and the deposit of the instruments of ratification by all parties to the contract. SACUM-UK EPA establishes a free trade area between the SACU member states and Mozambique as well as the UK. It also replicates the effects of the economic partnership agreement between the European Union and Southern African Development Community States (EU-SADC EPA) signed on June 10, 2016.

In this regard, it replicates the preferential tariff treatment of the EU-SADC EPA with the exception of the volume limitations on Tariff Rate Quotas. The entry into force of the SACUM-UK EPA provides for the continuity of trade between the UK and the SACU member states and Mozambique as the UK ceases to be a member of the EU single market and customs union.

The agreement also solidifies the strong trade relations and partnership between the parties. It also reflects the commitment of the parties to maintain a strong trading relationship as the UK develops its independent trade policy.

 

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