Export promotion seminars for the SACU-EFTA Free Trade Agreement, July 2009
Business Unity SA (BUSA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) hosted a workshop on the export opportunities available under the SACU-EFTA FTA. The seminars took place in Pretoria on the 15 and 16 July 2009; and in Cape Town on 17 and 18 July 2009.
The seminars, which were jointly organised by the South African Customs Union (SACU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Secretariats, were aimed at promoting and disseminating information about the pdf SACU-EFTA Free Trade Agreement (66 KB) . The seminars were held in four of the five SACU Member Countries. In addition to the seminars in Pretoria and Cape Town, other seminars also took place in Gaborone, Windhoek and Maseru.
The seminars were export focused and targeted all economic operators interested in exporting goods to the EFTA market. The target audience was the business community, chambers of commerce, exporters associations, provincial trade promotion agencies and potential exporters in South Africa. Government officials responsible for trade promotion were also invited to participate in these seminars.
Background on the SACU-EFTA FTA
In 2005 the South African Customs union (SACU is composed of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) concluded an agreement to establish a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between them. The free trade agreement provides for reciprocal preferential market access between EFTA and SACU states.
The FTA only covers commitments in trade in goods, namely industrial products, including fish and other marine products, and processed agricultural products. Basic agricultural products are dealt with in bilateral agricultural agreements agreed to between SACU and each individual EFTA State (Agricultural Agreement between Iceland and SACU, Agricultural Agreement between Norway and SACU, and Agricultural Agreement between Switzerland and SACU). The Agreement provides for non-binding engagements in future on issues of intellectual property, investment, trade in services and government procurement.
The SACU-EFTA FTA which entered into force on 1 May 2008 provides for South African economic operators to take advantage of trade opportunities offered by the agreement and also consolidating trade relations with the Western Europe. The FTA brings about a number of benefits to economic operators; that include duty free and quota free market access for SACU industrial products into EFTA markets on entry into force of the Agreement.
On basic agricultural products, EFTA and SACU exchanged limited trade concessions that are captured in the separate bilateral agricultural agreements between SACU and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland/Liechtenstein respectively. These bilateral agreements form part of the instruments establishing the free trade area between EFTA and SACU.
The SACU-EFTA FTA is a contractual and indefinite relationship providing certain and legally secured market access opportunities for both SACU and EFTA states exporters.