Trade Implications of Brexit for South African Agricultural Trade and Trade Policy
The objective of this paper is to set the background for a discussion and analysis of the old Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) and its replacement the SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and the implication of the decision by the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU) – the so-called Brexit. The examination concentrates on South African agricultural exports, with agriculture as defined by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agricultural Agreement.
We will examine South African (SA) agricultural trade with the EU and isolate the UK component to assess these possible Brexit issues. This is necessary as just when it looked as though the new TDCA/EPA trade relationships with the EU were somewhat settled the UK has thrown a curve ball by voting to leave the EU. There will be a period of considerable uncertainty and significant trade negotiating issues ahead. This will give South Africa (and all UK other partners) a renewed opportunity to re-negotiate trade access into an isolated UK in its own right rather than as a part of the greater Europe.
One of the important reasons for South Africa to participate in the EPA negotiations while it was still phasing in the provisions of the TDCA was that it wanted to harmonize the trading regime between SACU as a whole and the EU rather than have two separate agreements. With SADC-EPA it ensures that common external tariffs are maintained in all the trading partners and provide South Africa with an opportunity to correct some of the imbalances of TDCA, and particularly in agriculture. The political landscape has now changed.
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