PRETORIA – Government’s priority is to ensure that there is certainty and continuity in the trade and investment relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom as a result of Brexit, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies, 2016. (Photo: GCIS)

Speaking at the British Chamber of Business dialogue on the UK-South Africa bilateral relationship post-Brexit on Friday, Minister Davies said the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides a good basis to facilitate trade between South Africa and the UK going forward.

“Our priority now is that we do not want any interruption in our trade relations with the UK. The UK government has given an indication that it will roll-over existing trade arrangements to provide continuity and predictability,” said the Minister.

This, as the UK is set to leave the European Union (EU) through a term known as Brexit.

Minister Davies said the EPA represents an improvement on the Trade Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) in a number of respects in that it harmonises the trading regime between the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and the European Union (EU). It further also secures market access in agriculture beyond the TDCA provisions.

SACU is the world’s oldest customs union and predates the EU by 50 years.

“Under the EPA, we have secured an improved market access for wines and some fruit products, as well as negotiated new access for sugar and ethanol,” he said.

In addition, South Africa has managed to gain recognition for some of its geographical products like Rooibos, Honey bush and Karoo lamb under the EPA, as well as some wine names.

The UK remains South Africa’s historical and strategic trade and investment partner. It remains as a key market for agricultural exports that account for over 20% of South Africa’s exports of wine and 30% of fruit exports globally.

The UK is the biggest destination in the EU for South African investment, accounting for 30% of South African investments into Europe.

Bilateral investment relations between the UK and South Africa are strong with a total of 323 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects from the UK to South Africa recorded between January 2003 and September 2016.

These projects represent a total capital investment of R63.50 billion which is an average investment of R1.6 billion per project. According to FDI Intelligence, during the period, a total of 4 857 jobs were created. –