‘They’re reduced to celebrating an agreement to roll over a fraction of the existing trade deals that we already benefit from as EU members’
Theresa May meets South African president Cyril Ramaphosa at De Tuynhuys presidential palace in Cape Town
Theresa May has come under fire for claiming to have secured the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal as it is merely a “rollover” of an existing EU agreement.
Critics said the announcement – to replicate a deal with six southern African nations – fell far short of boasts, before the referendum, of a new free trade area much larger than the EU.
They also pointed out that it came amid doubts about whether the UK will be able to retain deals the EU has struck recently with Canada and Japan – which are far bigger economies.
Last year, Britain exported £2.4bn worth of goods to the six African countries included in Ms May’s deal – just 0.7 per cent of the value of its exports to the EU and the rest of the world combined, which were worth £339bn.
The government has acknowledged the risk of a “loss of trade” after Brexit with such countries, admitting they could demand more favourable terms to agree a rollover with the UK.
Speaking in Cape Town, the prime minister announced an additional £4bn of UK investment in African economies, with the hope of further match investment from the private sector to come.
And she said: “That’s why I’m delighted that we will today confirm plans to carry over the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and Mozambique once the EU’s deal no longer applies to the UK.
“As a prime minister who believes both in free markets and in nations and businesses acting in line with well-established rules and principles of conduct, I want to demonstrate to young Africans that their brightest future lies in a free and thriving private sector.”
Countries in the Sacu agreement include Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, with Mozambique also included in the pact with the EU that the UK will take on.
Of those countries, South Africa was Britain’s largest trade partner in 2017, buying £2.4bn worth of exports, followed by Namibia (£39m), Botswana (£24m) and Mozambique (£11m). Lesotho and Swaziland purchased less than a million pounds worth of exported goods from Britain each.
With many thanks to the: Guardian for the original story.
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