South Africa

South Africa signed an important FTA with the European Union back in 1999. That deal not only had lasting impacts on South Africa itself, but it set the stage for a stronger drive from the EU (and from EFTA) to get African nations to sign on to deeper liberalisation of trade and investment policies in the following decade, especially through the EU-ACP EPA negotiating process.

South Africa is member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) which has been negotiating an FTA with the US since many years. In 2006, SACU signed an FTA with Mercosur. In 2007, they sealed a deal with EFTA.

On its own, South Africa has a bilateral FTA with SADC (Southern Africa Development Cooperation). It also has preferential agreements with Malawi, Zimbabwe and Croatia plus a non-reciprocal trade arrangement with Mozambique. At present, it is considering further bilateral deals with Kenya, Nigeria, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and India. In late 2011, it rejected a proposal from Turkey for an FTA claiming this would bring about destructive competition which would undermine South Africa’s industrial and employment objectives.

South Africa is also part of IBSA, the India-Brazil-SA triangle that is hoping to forge a trilateral South-South FTA.

last update: May 2012


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  • 2-Oct-2015 CDR No longer a fair game?
    What are the next steps for investment protection in South Africa, as the country draws up new legislation governing foreign direct investment following the termination of a number of bilateral investment treaties?
  • 9-Aug-2015 South Centre International investment agreements and Africa’s structural transformation: a perspective from South Africa
    The brief describes the widening debate on the implications of international investment agreements for sustainable development and outlines the broad features of alternative policy approaches to foreign direct investment
  • 15-Apr-2015 Business Day Barriers to SA markets a concern for US
    The failure of the US and South Africa to achieve a free trade agreement in 2006 came to haunt them on Tuesday as their delegations gathered for consultations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 1999.
  • 28-May-2014 South Africa-Brazil FTAs will impact Namibian beef industry
    Free trade agreements won’t hold favourable implications for Namibia’s weaner industry and the opportune thing for local producers along with government, is to get together and have a round table discussion to come up with plans on how to convert potential challenges into opportunities.
  • 2-Apr-2014 Business Daily Draft bill no threat to foreign investors in South Africa
    "There are various perceptions that the draft bill falls short of acceptable international standards. This is not so," says the Department of Trade and Industry
  • 17-Dec-2013 The Conversation Why South Africa has ripped up foreign investment deals
    As the nation looks to move on from the loss of Nelson Mandela, these moves to regain control over foreign investment will prove valuable.
  • 13-Nov-2013 Business Report EU angry as investment policy levels playing field
    Is there something the EU trade guys know that they’re not telling the rest of us? Have they got wind of a dastardly ANC plan to expropriate all European-owned assets in South Africa?
  • 28-Oct-2013 BD SA annuls bilateral investment treaty with Germany
    South Africa last week cancelled its bilateral investment treaty with Germany, one of its most important trading partners, amid protests by German businesses.
  • 27-Aug-2013 Lexology South Africa terminates its bilateral investment treaty with Spain
    This is the second BIT terminated as part of South Africa’s planned review of its investment treaties
  • 19-Jul-2013 BD Termination of bilateral investment treaties won’t harm relations
    "South Africa has confronted a dilemma in which it was no longer possible to renegotiate investment treaties with individual EU member states and if we did not move towards termination, the existing treaties would be automatically extended for another 10 years," writes Trade Minister Rob Davies.
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