SABC News | 8 January 2008
SADC Free Trade Area comes into effect
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Free Trade Area has come into effect as from the start of this year. This means most goods produced in the region can now enter member countries free of custom duties.
However, some SADC states are concerned that South Africa will benefit the most as it is the region’s economy powerhouse and exports more than it imports from SADC countries.
The products will now move freely among member states, but other countries will still continue with tariffs as they feel there is a need to protect some of their infant industries.
There are also fears that goods from large exporters like South Africa can swamp markets of small countries and therefore result in the collapse of industries. But the South African government says inter-state dialogue will be maintained to ensure that the declaration of SADC as a free trade area benefits all role players.
Economists say this is a step in the right direction. They say in the long term, the region will, when trading with other similar international organisations, negotiate from a strong position.
Authorities say importers will need to produce a certificate of origin, guaranteeing that the goods really do come from other SADC member states.