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South Africa

South Africa signed an important FTA with the European Union back in 1999. That deal not only had lasting impacts on South Africa itself, but it set the stage for a stronger drive from the EU (and from EFTA) to get African nations to sign on to deeper liberalisation of trade and investment policies in the following decade, especially through the EU-ACP EPA negotiating process.

South Africa is member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) which has been negotiating an FTA with the US since many years. In 2006, SACU signed an FTA with Mercosur. In 2007, they sealed a deal with EFTA.

On its own, South Africa has a bilateral FTA with SADC (Southern Africa Development Cooperation). It also has preferential agreements with Malawi, Zimbabwe and Croatia plus a non-reciprocal trade arrangement with Mozambique. At present, it is considering further bilateral deals with Kenya, Nigeria, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and India. In late 2011, it rejected a proposal from Turkey for an FTA claiming this would bring about destructive competition which would undermine South Africa’s industrial and employment objectives.

South Africa is also part of IBSA, the India-Brazil-SA triangle that is hoping to forge a trilateral South-South FTA.

last update: May 2012
Photo: Maersk/CC BY-SA 2.0


Black business battling to tap agreements
South Africa’s black business people are battling to benefit from the numerous bilateral agreements the country has entered into, National Empowerment Fund CEO Philisiwe Buthulezi said on Thursday
Zuma’s visit to feature SA-China trade deals
South African President Jacob Zuma will lead a State visit to China this week in a bid to strengthen political, economic and trade relations with the world’s second-largest economy and South Africa’s largest trading partner.
India, SA trade agreement on track
India’s government hopes to “wrap up very quickly” negotiations around a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Africa.
South Africa: Free-trade agreement with China not on cards
SA will not pursue a conventional free-trade agreement with China as this is not in the interests of the country, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says.
Call for MPs to have say in foreign trade deals
Parliament’s trade and industry committee wants South African MPs to play a greater role in negotiating international agreements and has urged that the legislative framework and rules for dealing with them be reviewed.
Congo trade agreement creates opportunities for SA
President Jacob Zuma and the Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso signed a bilateral trade agreement in Pretoria on Thursday. In a statement released after their meeting, Zuma welcomed the long-term land lease agreement of over 200000 hectares of idle farmland to a consortium of South African farmers.
SA to focus on trade as global crisis recedes
SA is likely to focus on stimulating targeted sectors of the economy and firming up trade relations with key partners in Africa, Europe and the east this year, as growing global trade flows are expected to reflect a world emerging from recession.
South Africa: Fisheries pact with EU has to wait
The conclusion of a fisheries agreement between SA and the European Union has had to take second place to other considerations, even though SA’s fish exports to the EU are attracting duties that some other countries’ are not.
Farmers protected from Zimbabwe deal
South African farmers in Zimbabwe will not forfeit their land or investments as a result of a bilateral agreement still to be signed, a Pretoria judge ordered.
Free trade versus tariffs
The debate over the future trajectory of South Africa’s economic policy is about much more than the powers of Trevor Manuel and the planning ministry.