Patel welcomes signing of post-Brexit trade agreement with UK

Trade and industry minister, Ebrahim Patel.

With the United Kingdom (UK) remaining one of South Africa’s top trading partners, the Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel, has welcomed the conclusion of a post-Brexit trade agreement.

“An exit in which the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without any agreement of succession would add significant additional costs to exporting and importing goods for both sets of countries, as higher tariff duties will need to be added to the cost of trading between the UK and South Africa,” he said.

Patel pointed out that this would impact a range of industries, including the country’s vehicles an auto components sectors, wine and food products.

“In some cases, this may lead to a loss of exports completely.”

In 2018, the UK was the fourth largest destination for South African exports, with bilateral trade between the two countries amounting to more than R140 billion.

The UK is currently due to exit the EU by 31 October 2019 – though recent developments in the British parliament may impact on this process and date.

Patel was responding to an announcement earlier this week that the UK government had initialed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique (SACU+M) that will allow business to keep trading freely after Brexit.

The agreement allows businesses to continue to trade on preferential terms with South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique. Major exports from these countries to the UK last year included edible fruit and nuts (£547 million) and motor vehicles (£409 million).

“This trade agreement, as well as benefiting British businesses, will also support developing countries in reducing poverty through trade. They will be able to grow their economies, create jobs and increase incomes for their citizens,” said Britain’s international trade secretary, Liz Truss.

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