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Trade Information

Summary of Main Trade Agreements between South Africa and the rest of the World

From the DTI of South Africa (Department Trade and Industry)

Type of Agreement Countries Involved Main Objective/Terms Products Involved

Customs Union

Southern African Customs Union (SACU)

Customs Union

South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland

Duty free movement of goods with a common external tariff on goods entering any of the countries from outside the SACU

All products


Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

Southern African Development Community (SADC) FTA

Free Trade Agreement

Between 12 SADC Member States

A FTA, with 85% duty-free trade achieved in 2008. The 15% of trade, constituting the "sensitive list", is expected to be liberalised from 2009 to 2012 when SADC attains the status of a fully-fledged FTA with almost all tariff lines traded duty free.

Most products

Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA)

Free Trade Agreement

South Africa and the European Union (EU)

The EU offered to liberalise 95% of its duties on South African originating products by 2010. In turn, by 2012, South Africa offered to liberalise 86% of its duties on EU originating products.

There is currently a review of the agreement underway, which is aimed at broadening the scope of product coverage. This is taking place under the auspices of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between SADC and the EU

EFTA-SACU Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

Free Trade Agreement

SACU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) -Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

Tariff reductions on selected goods

Industrial goods (including fish and other marine products) and processed agricultural products. Basic agricultural products are covered by bilateral agreements with individual EFTA States


Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)

SACU-Southern Common Market (Mercosur) PTA

Preferential Trade Agreement

SACU and Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay

Tariff reductions on selected goods. It is not expected to enter into force before some time in 2012

About 1,000 product lines on each side of the border

Zimbabwe/South Africa bilateral trade agreement

Bilateral Preferential Trade Agreement

South Africa and Zimbabwe

Preferential rates of duty, rebates and quotas on certain goods traded between the two countries

Selected goods. A most recent version of the agreement was signed in August 1996, which lowers tariffs and quotas on textile imports into South Africa.


Non-reciprocal Trade Arrangements

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

Unilateral preferences granted under the enabling clause of the WTO that are not contractually binding upon the benefactors

Offered to South Africa as developing country by the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, the US, Canada and Japan

Products from developing countries qualify for preferential market access

Specified industrial and agricultural products

Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

Unilateral assistance measure

Granted by the US to 39 Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries

Preferential access to the US market through lower tariffs or no tariffs on some products

Duty free access to the US market under the combined AGOA/GSP programme stands at approximately 7,000 product tariff lines.


Other Agreements

Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation Agreement (TIDCA)

Cooperative framework agreement


Makes provision for the parties to negotiate and sign agreements relating to sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (SPS), customs cooperation and technical barriers to trade (TBT). It also establishes a forum of engagement of any matters of mutual interest, including capacity-building and trade and investment promotion.


Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)

Bilateral agreement

South Africa and US

Provides a bilateral forum for the two countries to address issues of interest, including AGOA, TIDCA, trade and investment promotion, non-tariff barriers, SPS, infrastructure and others.



Current Trade Negotiations


Preferential Trade Agreement

SACU and India

Tariff reductions on selected goods

SACU and India are in the process of exchanging tariff requests


Free Trade Agreement

26 countries with a combined GDP of US$860 billion and a combined population of approximately 590 million people

The Tripartite Framework derives its basis from the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC), which requires rationalization of the continent's regional economic communities. The FTA will be negotiated over the next three years, with the possibility of an additional two years for completion.

The Tripartite initiative comprises three pillars that will be pursued concurrently, in order to ensure an equitable spread of the benefits of regional integration: market integration, infrastructure development and industrial development. The FTA will, as a first phase, cover only trade in goods; services and other trade-related areas will be covered in a second phase.