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SACU

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) consists of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. It was established in 1910, making the oldest customs union in the world. The SACU agreement was revised in 1969 and in 2002.

As a customs union, the members implement one common external tariff with outside countries and charge no duties on trade between them.

SACU is increasingly involved in bilateral FTAs with foreign trade partners, mainly because it forms a single customs territority with South Africa as its powerhouse economy:

- In 2003, SACU started FTA talks with the US, but these were grounded by mid-2006 due to Washington’s high demands. In 2008, a Trade and Investment Development Cooperation Agreement was signed instead, as an interim measure towards a full and final FTA.
- In April 2005, SACU signed a preferential trade agreement with the southern Latin American bloc Mercosur, its first FTA. The agreement was revised, to incorporate further protocols, in April 2008.
- In 2006, SACU signed an FTA with the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).

In 2010, the SACU Secretariat also commissioned a study into a potential SACU-East African Community (EAC) trade agreement. In 2011, SACU agreed to a set of principles to guide FTAs, and prioritized pursuing deals with Mercosur and India.

The ambitious project to forge an FTA between India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) may actually revolve around India, Mercosur and SACU.

last update: May 2012


Experts called in to fix customs union split
The Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) has instructed a team of technical experts to draft terms of reference acceptable to all five member states, in order to resolve the contentious issue of an economic partnership agreement with the European Union, President Jacob Zuma said yesterday.
South Africa flexing its muscles with poor neighbours
The beleaguered Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has to face up to serious challenges at its upcoming heads of state meeting in October.
SADC Churches discuss SACU
A regional SACU civil society conference has recommended that there is a need for a broader regional agenda anchored on the strength of small economies in the region.
National body to monitor flood of imports
The Ministry of Trade and Industry is in the process of establishing a national body under the 2002 Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Agreement.
Sacu to study impact of free-trade deal with East African Community
The Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) is in the process of initiating a study of a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with the East African Community (EAC).
100 years and rebirth of SACU
WINDHOEK – Southern African Customs Union (SACU) was this week transformed into a modern customs union, ready to shape regional integration for the entire southern Africa.
Sacu at 100 eyes transformation
THE Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) will be transformed from a customs union into a body to deepen regional integration in southern Africa beyond the existing five member states and to “serve as building block of an ever closer community” among the peoples of Southern Africa.
WTO voices concern over high tariffs in Sacu states
Members of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) trade policy review committee raised its concern last week over the relatively extensive use of antidumping and other tariff measures by SA on behalf of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu).
SACU busy with painful discussions, says Manuel
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is having very painful discussions at the moment in Swaziland on its very future, said Minister in the Presidency for National Planning, Trevor Manuel.
Development Through Trade
Institutional development is considered important in empowering the Southern African Customs Union’s (Sacu’s) secretariat to play a significant role in regional policy development and the associated policy-making structures.