Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davis has welcomed the agreement between European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) at the March European Council that will see the UK being treated as a member state.
The purpose of the international agreement is during the EU-UK Implementation Period from1 April 2019 to 31 December 2020.
Davis said this provides further certainty that there will not be disruption to the existing trading relationship during the implementation period.
The United Kingdom is currently in the process of leaving the EU after a majority of citizens voted in a referendum on June 23, 2016, in what has popularly come to be known as Brexit.
Davis held a bilateral meeting with his UK counterpart Liam Fox on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London on Tuesday where the business relationship between the two minister said they were both happy with the strength of the UK-South Africa trade and investment relationship.
“As we leave the EU and create a new independent UK trade policy, we will build further on our £9bn of annual trade with South Africa, our biggest trading partner in Africa, and champion free trade to help developing countries combat poverty and grow their economies,” Fox said.
Davies said the UK remained an important strategic partner for South Africa globally as the two countries have enjoyed mutually beneficial preferential trade since January 2000.
“The UK is South Africa’s 2nd largest trading partner in the EU Region. Our goods exports to the UK in 2014 were R37.6bn and increased to R46.3 bn in 2017.
“Noteworthy is the positive trade balance that South Africa continues to enjoy in its trade with the UK, which earns the country foreign currency and contributes to reducing the country’s current account deficit.
“The key priority for South Africa is to change the structure of our trade to more value-added products.”
Davis also welcomed the progress made by experts on the finalisation of the rollover of the EPA arrangement between Southern Africa Customs Union(SACU) states, Mozambique and the UK as this was critical to ensuring continuity post the Brexit era.