THE UK is engaged in negotiations with the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) to replicate the existing economic partnership agreement which the customs union has with the EU.
This is to ensure that there is an agreement in place in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, though it will not have any force and effect in a negotiated withdrawal as transitional arrangements — including the continuation of the economic partnership agreement between Sacu and the EU — will apply until end 2020 or end 2022 at the very latest.
Having an agreement in place would provide clarity and certainty to Southern Africa and UK exporters, British high commissioner Nigel Casey said during a talk to the Cape Town Press Club Monday.
‘The good news is that we are close to completing that process,’ he said. Casey said the UK wanted to have a deal with Sacu in place in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The UK is due to leave the EU with or without a deal on March 29, 2019. With no deal in place, Britain would immediately fall outside of the EU’s trade regime.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has to take the withdrawal agreement which was thrashed out with EU leaders this week back for a vote in the House of Commons. If the deal is accepted by both the UK and EU parliaments, then there would be a transitional period lasting until December 2020 during which the UK would continue to fall under the EU trade regime. This would mean that Sacu’s trade relations with the UK would continue to be governed by the economic partnership agreement with the EU.
There is a provision for the transitional period to be extended until the end of 2022.