Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Trade routes: goods trade between SADC and the EU


Trade routes: goods trade between SADC and the EU

The Eurostat database shows the export of goods (recorded in tons) to the EU28 member states by mode of transportation. The data shows the mode of transportation for external trade up to the point of entry into the EU by source country and destination market (the country which makes the customs declaration). The data does not show the mode of transportation from the point of entry to the final destination market as this all forms part of the intra-EU mode of transportation data.

Once all import procedures have been completed at the customs office of entry, goods can be transported freely throughout the whole EU. This free movement of goods is of vital importance for African exports – once the import procedures are completed at the point of entry, goods can cross over multiple national borders to reach its destination market; this reduces the cost of doing business with multiple countries within the EU. Goods can be exported in bulk to a central point of entry and then transported within the EU without delays.

Sea, rail, road and air are the main modes of transportation for goods entering the EU from non-EU countries. Although goods entering the EU from SADC member states via road or rail seems peculiar, it is important to note the following:

  • These goods are often offloaded in points of entry in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) states and then physically enter one of the EU28 member states via road or rail.

  • Goods are often shipped to Belgium or the Netherlands destined for Switzerland and held in the free trade zone. Once these goods enter one of the EU28 member states from Switzerland they are denoted as SADC exports entering the EU via road or rail (this is especially the case for instance with indigenous wood exports and tobacco).

  • In the case of tobacco and copper exports; these products are also often shipped to China and then transported (multi-modal) via rail and road to the EU or shipped to Belgium and Netherlands transferred to Russia and then imported back into the EU via road or rail.

In 2016 close to 38 million tons of goods from the SADC member states entered the EU by sea, air, rail and road transportation. The main mode of transportation is sea transportation (98% of SADC exports), while road, rail and air transportation accounts for 1%, 0.4% and 0.3% of SADC’s exports respectively. 6% of these goods are exported to the UK which enter by sea (2.4 million tons), air and road. No goods exported from SADC destined for the UK enter the EU by rail.

Of SADC’s 16 Member States, nine countries with major ports through which exports flow to various destination markets. 48% of the goods entering the EU (excluding the UK) via maritime transportation are dispatched from South Africa, 32% from Angola and 7% Mozambique. Goods transported by sea to the UK are mainly dispatched from South Africa (42%) and Angola (43%).

This note and infographic focuses on trade between the European Union and all 16 Member States of SADC (not only those that are party to the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement).

Trade routes: goods trade between SADC and the EU

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