The trade agreement between the United Kingdom (UK) and her trade partners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) would not be disrupted by the pending exiting of Britain from the European Union (EU), it has been revealed.
UK re-affirmed the commitment last Wednesday following the round-table discussions on trade relations post-Brexit between Southern African Customs Union (SACU) members and UK held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In June last year, SADC countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland – signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU in Kasane.
According to a joint statement released last Thursday, UK minister Lord Price confirmed that the trade relationship between the UK and the SACU countries would not be disrupted due to the Brexit process.
Under the EU-SADC EPA, SACU countries agreed on a duty-free quota-free access into the lucrative British market.
At the roundtable discussions, UK reaffirmed its commitment to the trade agreement under the current deal.
Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Vincent Seretse who represented Botswana at the roundtable discussions welcomed the UK’s intention of preventing disruption of trade relations with other countries as it leaves the EU.
“The two sides (UK and SACU countries) agreed to continue discussions to explore ways to ensure that the existing trade arrangement between the UK and SACU currently governed by the EU-SADC EPA will not be disrupted by the UK’s departure from the EU,” he said.
Seretse added: “Talks are likely to focus on steps to agree on an arrangement that replicates the effects of the EPA once the UK has left the UK.
This would be a technical exercise to ensure continuity in the trading relationship, rather than an opportunity to renegotiate existing terms.”
According to Seretse, SACU ministers welcomed the UK’s intention to avoid disruption for its trading partners as it withdraws from the EU because a number of customs union’s members were to suffer financially.
He said the UK re-affirmed its commitment to the trade arrangement under the current EU-SADC EPA and to maintain current market access to the UK following its withdrawal from the EU, and to ensure continuity of the effects.
UK is one of Botswana’s main exports partners with 56percent of her total exports are destined to the Theresa May led nation.
As at May 2017, the trade balance sheet between Botswana and UK reached the highest of 2 946 Great British Pound.