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SACUM- UK EPA Under the Spotlight

November 7, 2019

Department of Trade and Industry

7 November 2019

The trade and industry department has briefed the national council of provinces on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Mozambique (together SACUM) and the United Kingdom (UK).

The national assembly approved the EPA yesterday.

The portfolio committee on trade and industry approved the EPA at the end of October 2019.

SACUM-UK consists of the SACU Member States, Mozambique and the UK.

The EPA was negotiated to roll-over the current EPA involving the EU to ensure that trade with the UK continues once Brexit takes effect.

According to the trade and industry minister, Ebrahim Patel, the SACUM- UK EPA will “replace the current legal framework for trade under the EU SADC EPA if the UK leaves the EU on 31 January 2020 or on a later date if the UK and EU agree to an extension or if the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU comes into force”.

He added that the EPA includes additional market access for 13 agricultural products, including wine and sugar, in the form of new volumes in relation to the Tariff Rate Quotas contained in the EPA with the European Union.

In an earlier statement, the portfolio committee on trade and industry indicated that the committee unanimously supported the approval of the agreement for ratification.

The committee chairperson, Duma Nkosi, declared that the EPA “will provide the peace of mind and a regulatory secure environment to operate in for all concerned”.

In the briefing, Ambassador Xavier Carim, Deputy Director General International Trade and Economic Development Division, indicated that national ratification processes in SACU and Mozambique are underway.

He described the EPA as an “insurance for continuation of preferential trade between the SACUM countries and the UK if the UK was to leave the EU without agreement”.

Meanwhile, the department has launched the pilot phase of a new business portal led by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

In a statement, the department described the Biz Portal as a single integrated company registration platform in South Africa designed to make registering businesses easier.

According to the department, entrepreneurs will be able to register a business within a day in South Africa.

Entrepreneurs will be able to obtain company registration, tax registration number, domain name registration, B-BBEE certificate, Compensation Fund registration, Unemployment Insurance Fund registration and Business Bank account via the portal.