When it comes to establishing a new trade regime with the United Kingdom to allow South Africa a soft landing from Brexit, the ball is now in Britain’s court, the Department of Trade and Industry told Fin24.
The past month has been eventful for both countries. While the fifth government administration in South Africa dissolved to make way for general elections, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation a week ago.
However, trade and industry spokesman Sidwell Medupe told Fin24 that the trade relationship between SA and the United Kingdom remained the same is it was before, and that the department was continuing discussions with its British counterpart, led by George Hollingbery.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Department of Trade and Industry would be merged with the Department of Economic Development in a bid to improve government efficiency. This means that Minister Ebrahim Patel will most likely lead the remaining engagements.
"We still trading with UK in terms of the partnership agreement with the European Union. We have an economic partnership agreement with them that governs our trade. As it is now, until they leave, they are still regarded as part of the EU. This is why we have been negotiating the terms of agreement to minimise disruptions as a result of Brexit," said Medupe.
Medupe said May’s resignation would not affect the engagements with Hollingbery. "When they leave [the] EU, they become regarded as [the] UK, and we are trying to establish an agreement before that," Medupe said. Medupe said these discussions were ongoing but were at an advanced phase.