‘SA to pursue trade agreements with UK post-Brexit’
South Africa will continue to pursue bilateral and regional negotiations with the British government despite its exit from the European Union (EU), the Minister of Trade and Industry (the dti) Rob Davies said on Tuesday.
Speaking after his arrival from a two-day visit to the United Kingdom, Davies said the country’s strategy post-Brexit was to concluded a free-trade agreement with Britain.
“We had a number of meetings with investors and parliamentarians to encourage and boost trade between South Africa and the UK,” Davies said. “We don’t have a duty-free quota with the UK. Our our template going forward will be partnerships but in the long run we will have to have quotas.”
After its formal withdrawal from the EU, the United Kingdom will no longer be a party to any of the trade agreements between the EU and any other country or regional bloc.
South African exporters have had preferential access to UK markets under two consecutive agreements entered into with the EU as a regional bloc – namely the Trade and Development Co-operation Agreement (TDCA) since 2000, which was more recently superseded by the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Davies visited the UK in a bid to showcase opportunities for investment in some of South Africa’s “priority” sectors and to engage in important dialogue following the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Switzerland.
Asked about foreign investors’ perception of South Africa’s economy, Davies said TeamSA had presented a strong case for investment in the country and pacified rating agencies.
“We can expect a better economic performance this year compared to last year. The agricultural sector looks forward to the rains this year and commodity prices are going up,” Davies said.
“South African business does worry a lot about political and economical challenges in the country and is grappling with a lot of issues. But our continuous meetings with the president through a joint task team of government and business executives, we will continue to deal with concerns of rating agencies.”
Davies said TeamSA had not held formal bilateral meetings with Xi Jinping in Davos, the President of the People’s Republic of China, one of South Africa’s biggest trading partners. Asked about trade pacts with the United States following US President Donald Trump’s decision on Monday to pull out of big Asia trade deal, Davies said South Africa’s trade agreements with the US were underpinned by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
“Agoa was endorsed by Congress until 2025, but we will have to wait and see if anything changes,” Davies said.
» See the joint statement by UK Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox, and South Africa Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies