BREXIT Information for Western Cape Exporters | Western Cape Government

BREXIT Information for Western Cape Exporters

BREXIT Information for Western Cape Exporters


Brexit is the term coined for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). The UK government held a referendum in June 2016 on whether the UK should leave the EU or remain a member, the UK public elected to leave the EU. Public support for a British exit from the EU was underpinned, amongst other things, by opinions about immigration, economic discontent in the Eurozone, questions of sovereignty and high expenditure to the EU budget. Even though the referendum was mainly advisory in nature, rather than bound by law, it allowed the UK parliament to evoke EU Treaty Article 50 in March 2017, which permits a member nation to leave the EU. This allowed the UK two years to negotiate its exit and determine its relationship with the EU going forward.

The two main leave options put forward by politicians are a ‘hard Brexit’ or a ‘soft Brexit.’ A ‘hard Brexit’ would take Britain out of Europe’s single market, whereas a ‘soft Brexit’ allows the UK to have a closer relationship with the EU (for example, to remain part of the EU customs union). Consequently, the UK parliament voted against (or failed to ratify) the negotiated withdrawal agreements presented thus far. As a result, the deadline has been extended three times, and is currently set for 31 January 2020.

Depending on how the situation plays out, Brexit will have various implications for South African exporters to the United Kingdom.  South Africa currently enjoys preferential trade with the United Kingdom under the Southern African Development Community- European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC –EU EPA). When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, they will no longer be a party to the trade agreements that the EU have with third party countries like South Africa.

The United Kingdom has therefore negotiated an agreement with South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, eSwatini, Namibia and Mozambique, which largely replicates the terms of the SADC-EU EPA. These are all the countries that are party to the SADC-EU EPA, and are referred to as the Southern African Customs Union + Mozambique, or SACUM countries. The new trade agreement is therefore called the SACUM –UK EPA. The new SACUM-UK EPA will kick in when, and if, the UK leaves the EU, pending ratification by all the parties.

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If you have questions about Brexit or are interested in finding out more about exporting from the Western Cape, please contact:

General: +27 (0) 21 487 8600 or

Denan Kuni, Head of International Trade and Development:

Erica Joubert, Senior Trade Manager for Europe:

Karen Bosman, Strategic Research and Public Affairs:

Key Stakeholders 

Western Cape Government: Department of Economic Development and Tourism 

The Department has established a dedicated e-mail channel for Brexit export related enquiries:

Department of Trade and Industry - or 0861 843 384

Refer to the table below for export councils and associated associations. 

Export Councils   Industry Associations 

Automotive Industry Export Council (AIEC)

Built Environment Professions Export Council (BEPEC)

SA Boatbuilders' Export Council

SA Capital Equipment Export Council

SA Electrotechnical Export Council

Fresh Produce Exporters Forum / Fruit South Africa

Farmed Abalone Export Council

Cosmetic Export Council of South Africa (CECOSA)

SA Footwear & Leather Export Council

International Steel Fabricators of South Africa

South African Wire Association

Wines of South Africa

Steel Tube Export Association of South Africa

SA Equine Trade Council

SA Fruit & Vegetable Canners' Export Council

South African Ostrich Business Chamber

Rail Road Association

SA Aerospace Maritime & Defence Industries Association




Aluminium Federation of South Africa (AFSA)

Plastics SA

SA Dairy Foundation

SA Iron & Steel Institute (SAISI)

South African Print & Packaging Export Council

Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPeSA)

South African Stainless Steel Development Association (SASSDA)

SA Olive industry association

South African Organic Sector Organisation

Western Cape Trout Association

Marine Finfish Farmers Association of South Africa

South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA)

Crocodile Association

South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA)

Responsible packaging management Association of Southern Africa (RPMASA)

Women and Youth in Agriculture

Medical Device Manufacturers Association of South Africa

Publishers’ Association of South Africa

Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association

South African Furniture Initiative


SARS - More information about exporting under South Africa's international trade agreements can be found at HERE

The content on this page was last updated on 17 December 2019