Southern African Customs Union

SACU is a customs union comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland (the BLNS states) and South Africa. The agreement includes, among other things, the levying of uniform customs and excise duties, free interchange of duty-paid goods imported from outside member countries, imposition of additional protective duties by BLNS states and regulation of the marketing of agricultural produce. There are no duties payable on goods traded between SACU members. For a number of South African exporters, trade with SACU is considered more as a local sale than as export business. The procedures for export are very simple and the distances to the markets are short and frequent.

Import tariffs imposed on goods from outside of SACU generally discourage the switching of the BLNS imports to alternative sources of supply, even where the cost of South African products is higher than for comparable items sourced elsewhere. As a result, the BLNS states depend on South Africa for the majority of their imports.

The Agreement has been under review for a number of years. For SACU to continue there will have to be a reassessment so that the benefits of the Union accrue more equitably to all partners.