The state of trade liberalisation in goods in SADC

Authors Precious Nonhlanhla Ndlovu

ISSN: 2026-8556
Affiliations: LLD Candidate and Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape
Source: SADC Law Journal, The, 2012, Issue 2, p. 187 – 204


The Protocol on Trade seeks to liberalise trade among Southern African Development Community (SADC) members through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers with the aim of establishing a Free Trade Area (FTA) in the region. The paper revisits the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) timelines as far as trade liberalisation is concerned. It shows that while the FTA was launched as per the 2008 deadline, a number of obstacles still remain. These include the failure by some members to achieve the liberalisation threshold, inadequate customs infrastructure, the surge in non-tariff barriers, and the multiple memberships of the SADC countries in other regional trade blocs, which may undermine SADC’s objectives. This paper suggests that the solutions to these problems include consolidating the gains achieved from the FTA; getting members whose commitments are outstanding to take steps to align their customs laws to the agreed benchmarks; having members refrain from imposing non-tariff barriers; increasing customs cooperation; and setting realistic time frames.