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US-SACU

The US began negotiating a free trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union — composed of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland — in June 2003. The talks first got stalled in mid-2004, largely because of the US’ extreme and inflexbile demands regarding intellectual property rights. Around July-September 2005, officials started trying to reignite the process by chopping the FTA negotiating items into "bite size pieces". By early 2006, the process was looking like it would still go nowhere and in April that year it was suspended.

From the start, the prospects of a US-SACU accord raised a lot of fears in the subregion, if past US free trade agreements are anything to go by. The demands put forward by the US — especially in terms of investment and intellectual property, including patents on drugs and seeds — would be quite radical for the SACU countries.

While the talks were stalled, the US administration reportedly began looking into the possibility of negotiating bilaterals FTAs with individual sub-Saharan African countries. Washington also proposed that the US and SACU adopt a Trade and Investment Cooperation agreement — more than a TIFA, but less than an FTA — as step towards a full-fledged FTA.

On 16 July 2008, the US Trade Representative and the SACU Trade Ministers signed a Trade and Investment Development Cooperation Agreement. The TIDCA is meant to be a stepping stone to a full FTA, so the process is still in motion.

last update: May 2012


US-SACU: New impetus behind a deal
Negotiations for a free trade agreement between the US and the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) stalled last year in an atmosphere of impasse rather than acrimony. But on the explicit instruction of President Thabo Mbeki, the talks are now on again and new, ambitious targets have been set for their completion, as well as a new plan for getting past the problems that plagued the last effort.
Sacu and US to kick-start trade talks
The US and the five-member Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) will meet in the second half of September to kick-start trade negotiations that ground to a halt late last year after the two regions failed to reach consensus on a range of key issues.
Sacu-US trade talks to resume
The year-long deadlock in free-trade negotiations between the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and the US appears to have been broken with talks set to resume in September.
Trade talks between SACU and USA cancelled
Talks were scheduled to restart this week between deputy trade ministers of South Africa and the United States regarding a free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). These have now been cancelled and no new date set.
SA to reopen US free trade talks
The South African government is to revive talks with the US on trade policies between Washington and the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu).
AIDS drugs dog US-Southern Africa trade deal
The United States and the Southern African trade bloc are set to revive free trade talks next month, but analysts say intellectual property rights for urgently needed AIDS drugs remain a stumbling block.
Competitive Liberalization and a US-SACU FTA
This paper evaluates a possible US-SACU (Southern African Customs Union) free trade agreement as part of a US approach to new preferential trade agreements characterized by the term ’competitive liberalization.’
The potential impact of US-SACU FTA negotiations on public health in southern Africa
This Working Paper was written by Tenu Avafia, a tralac researcher, and examines the potential impact of the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between SACU and the United States from the perspective of public health.
The proposed US-SACU FTA: Comparison with FTAA, CAFTA, US-Chile and US-Singapore
Many civic organizations in the SACU region and the US, especially the labor unions, as well as other governments within Southern Africa note many possible disadvantages to the proposed US-SACU FTA.
US-SACU trade deal: what’s in it for us?
In bilateral talks characterised by unequal power relations, the rich will force their will on the poor and the "development" element of trade deals will be diluted to the point of being meaningless. This is especially so when dealing with a country like the US that believes more trade, on its own, equals more development.