SADC aims to facilitate trade by simplifying, harmonizing, standardizing and modernizing regional customs procedures. The SADC Trade Protocol (2005), as amended, provides for the establishment of a free trade area in the SADC region until 2008 and aims to further liberalize intraregional trade in goods and services; ensure efficient production; contribute to improving the climate for domestic, cross-border and foreign investment; and to promote the economic development, diversification and industrialization of the region. The NTB online monitoring mechanism is available on www.tradebarriers.org. Operators can directly report and monitor the resolution of obstacles in the Comesa, EAC and SADC regions. This new system increases transparency and facilitates the monitoring of notified and identified NTBs. This web-based NTB system is accessible to all economic actors, civil servants, academic researchers and other interested parties. The SADC Free Trade Area was achieved in August 2008, when a gradual programme of customs reductions, which began in 2001, resulted in minimum conditions for the free trade area – 85% of intra-regional trade between partner countries reached zero tariffs. Mauritian operators trading in the region are urged to use the online system to report NTB. The site lists the different types of NTBs that can be reported on the system. Once the complaint is registered in the database, it is registered with a reference number.
This reference number can be used to control who is responsible for the management of the declared NTB and any specific results. The online system also publishes reports of procedural, legislative or regulatory changes announced by Member States in the three CIs, so that all distributors can be continuously informed of commercial requirements. The liberalization of trade in the region will create a larger market and unlock the potential for trade, economic growth and job creation. The SADC Free Trade Area aims to meet the following needs of the private sector and other regional actors: as part of its mission to increase trade between SADC member States and external markets, SADC signed a trade protocol in 1996. In defining SADC`s trade policy, the Protocol recognizes the importance of a liberalized trading environment for the economic development, diversification and industrialization of the region. To promote such liberalisation, the Protocol therefore recommends that Member States harmonise their national trade policies in order to promote free trade as a means of strengthening cooperation between finance, investment and other sectors. In addition to these policies, Member States should establish links between free trade and the coordination of industrial policies and identify other areas of liberalisation cooperation. However, the Protocol stresses that such liberalization must take place on the basis of fair, equitable and mutually beneficial trade agreements, which complement other SADC protocols. Since 2000, when the implementation of the SADC Trade Protocol began, intra-SADC trade has more than doubled, with intra-SADC trade increasing from about $13.2 billion in 2000 to about $34 billion in 2009, an increase of about 155 per cent.
As the process of eliminating tariffs on sensitive products continues until 2012, there is still potential for expansion of intra-SADC trade, given that most of the products are on the sensitive list, such as textiles and clothing, leather and leather products. Improved trade opportunities for goods: The EPA guarantees duty- and quota-free access to the EU market for Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. South Africa enjoys new market access compared to the EU-South Africa Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), which currently regulates trade relations with the EU until October 2016 (when the EPA entered into force provisionally and therefore lifted the trade component of the TDCA).