UK High Commissioner Nigel Casey says that post-Brexit, South Africa and the SADC-Mozambique bloc will be able to negotiate one-on-one trade deals with the UK, and not be tied to European Union restrictions.
South Africans need not fear Brexit as it will be good for this country, UK High Commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey insists.
Britain’s departure from the European Union, which must happen by 31 October, will bring increased trade and development between the UK and South Africa, Casey said in an interview with Daily Maverick.
He said the main question South Africans are asking him about Brexit is “ ‘What’s in it for South Africa?’ Which is exactly the right question to ask? It’s not ‘isn’t it terrible’ but ‘what are the opportunities for us?’.
“I think there genuinely are opportunities for South Africa. For a number of reasons. First of all our economies are complementary. There are very few products where we are in competition with South Africa.
“And there are strong markets in the UK for important products from South Africa, notably wines, fruits, fruit juices, for which there is enormous demand in British supermarkets.
“So that’s a very good basis for looking to expand trade in the future.
“The second reason is that as we leave the EU and have the freedom to set our own trade policy, we will be able to assume an ambition to have a strong development focus to our trade policy.
“So we will be able to use trade policy to drive development in Africa. To help drive intra-Africa trade. And in particular against the context of the Continental Free Trade Area.
“There’s a real opportunity to bring together our trade and development objectives which has not always been possible in the past. And finally, I would say that because South Africa has weight in the international system, it’s a country which a lot of people in the UK know and are interested in; it’s a member of the Commonwealth, I’m confident in the world beyond Brexit, when we’re looking for partners we can expand our business with, South Africa will be on that list.”
Casey disclosed that South African and British trade negotiators had met over the past month to do just that by trying to reach a UK-SA free trade agreement before Britain leaves the EU on 31 October. The new deal would replace the current trade arrangement between the two countries which are governed by the European Union-Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement.