The UK has initialled an Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique (SACU+M) that will allow business to keep trading freely after Brexit.
This marks the end of formal trade discussions and the UK-SACU+M Economic Partnership Agreement will be subject to final checks before it is formally signed.
The agreement allows businesses to continue to trade on preferential terms with South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique. It also supports the economic development of these Commonwealth partners laying the foundations for new trade and investment in the future.
This will help to strengthen further the trading relationship between the UK and SACU+M nations, which was worth £9.7 billion last year.
The SACU+M nations are an important market for UK exports of machinery and mechanical appliances worth £409 million in 2018, motor vehicles worth £335 million, and beverages including whisky worth £136 million.
Consumers and businesses in the UK will continue to benefit from more choice and lower prices on goods imported from SACU+M countries. Major imports to the UK from these countries last year included edible fruit and nuts (£547 million) and motor vehicles (£409 million).
Trade continuity agreements signed cover countries accounting for £89billion of the UK’s trade. When the SACU+M agreement is signed and takes effect, this will go up to £99bn.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said:
''This trade agreement, once it is signed and takes effect, will allow businesses to keep trading after Brexit without any additional barriers. As well as benefiting British businesses, this will also support developing countries in reducing poverty through trade. They will be able to grow their economies, create jobs and increase incomes for their citizens. This is a major milestone as the UK prepares to become an independent trading nation once again, and we are helping businesses get Ready to Trade with the most exciting markets around the world.''
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said:
''Breaking down barriers to trade helps create millions of new jobs and economic growth, delivering opportunities for the world’s poorest to move beyond aid dependency to become our trading partners of the future.''
Katy Ransome, the UK Commissioner to Botswana said:
''This agreement in principle demonstrates our commitment to increasing trade with developing countries and boosting economies across Southern Africa and the UK. This new agreement, once it is signed and takes effect, ensures continuity in our £9.7 billion trading relationship, allowing our businesses to continue supporting our mutual prosperity and economic development.''
Wilson Del Socorro, Global Director of Government Affairs for Diageo PLC added:
''Diageo warmly welcomes the news of a UK-Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique agreement in principle. International trade is vital to Diageo as it gives us the opportunity to reach more consumers and markets around the world. Africa is an important growth region for Diageo, including export markets like South Africa for Scotch whisky.''