Since the EU and South Africa concluded a Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) in 1999, the two sides have maintained strong and growing trade relations. In June 2016, the EU and South Africa signed the Southern Africa Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC EPA), which governs merchandise trade between the two regions, with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland, which governs merchandise trade between the two regions, replacing the TDCA`s trade provisions. South Africa signed a major free trade agreement with the European Union in 1999. This agreement not only had a lasting effect on South Africa itself, but also set the conditions for stronger EU (and EFTA) action to get African nations to commit to greater trade and investment policy liberalization over the next decade, notably through the EPA negotiation process between the EU and ACP countries. Trade rules are complex, sometimes open to divergent and often controversial interpretations. Most world trade is governed by WTO framework agreements that govern trade among WTO members on the “most favoured nation” principle and also define the basic rules for bilateral and regional free trade agreements (WTO-plus). These agreements include a large number of national (and sometimes regional) provisions and regulations, including tariff and concession regimes for services, customs legislation and import/export rules. Understanding and complying with these rules can be a challenge for businesses, but they are essential to the success of import and export activities, the provision of cross-border services and the protection of investments in new markets. As part of government policy, the South African government is seeking to further open its market in order to increase trade and develop more competitive domestic industries. However, in 2006, the South African government made exceptions to this approach to protect the labour-intensive apparel industry. During 2020, the South African authorities took emergency measures to limit all goods and people traffic as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic; These have been partially removed.
With branches in more than 50 cities around the world, our lawyers have extensive experience advising the full range of WTO rules and processes that underpin the international trading system, including trade agreement negotiations and trade disputes. Our team is made up of lawyers with extensive experience in commercial, commercial interpretations, trade agreements and commercial dispute resolution mechanisms. Our team members have served in the highest government and diplomatic career and have led the negotiation of international trade agreements and important bilateral free trade agreements. Lawyers from our World Trade Organization (WTO) and the international trade team help their clients adapt to the complex and rapidly changing network of international trade rules and cooperate with governments to support trade agreement negotiations.