Signing of the free trade agreement between EFTA and SACU

(Last modification 03.07.2006)

Berne, 01.07.2006 - Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss, the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Bongani Mabuto Mpahlwa, and the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affaires and Trade of Swaziland, Clifford Sibusiso Mamba, signed the EFTA-SACU free trade agreement in Geneva on 1 July 2006. The bilateral agreement on agriculture between Switzerland and the SACU States was signed with the South African Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs, Lulu Xingwana, and the Permanent Secretary of Swaziland.

The free trade agreement with the countries of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU: S. Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland) liberalises trade in industrial products (including processed agricultural products as well as fish and other marine products). The agreement also contains evolutionary clauses covering the fields of intellectual property, trade in services, investment and public procurement. Concessions in the field of basic agricultural products are includes in bilateral agreements concluded individually by each EFTA State with the SACU States. The agreements are expected to enter into force early 2007, following the completion of the signing and ratification procedures by all parties.

The aim of the free trade agreement between EFTA and SACU is to strengthen economic and trade relations with the SACU States and, in particular, to eliminate the current discriminations on the South African market due to the association agreement between South Africa and the EU that has been in force since January 2000. In return, exports from SACU countries will benefit from contractually guaranteed preferential treatment on the markets of the EFTA States.

The free trade agreement with the SACU States extends the network of free trade agreements that EFTA States have developed with third countries since the beginning of the 1990s. The Swiss economy depends heavily on exports to diversified markets. The conclusion of free trade agreements – alongside membership in the WTO and the contractual relations with the European Union – constitutes one of the three main pillars of Switzerland's policy of market opening and improving the framework conditions for foreign economic relations.

For more information on bilateral economic relations between Switzerland and the countries of the SACU visit:

Address for enquiries

Evelyn Kobelt,
FDEA Communications Service,
Tel. 031 322 20 59;
Mobile 079 301 71 72

Christian Etter,
EFTA Section,
SECO / Integration Office,
Tel. 031 324 08 62


Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research

Last modification 30.11.2022

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