SADC Free Trade Area

The SADC Free Trade Area

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The SADC FTA was launched on 17 August 2008. The implementation of the SADC Trade Protocol started in the year 2000 with the gradual elimination of customs duties on 85% of tariff lines by 2008 and with tariffs on the remaining 'sensitive products' being eliminated by 2012. However, given the worldwide economic situation, some Member States have delayed their tariff-phased down schedules.

SADC Protocol on Trade

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SADC Member States

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Out of the 16 SADC Member States, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Comoros have yet to join the SADC FTA. Therefore, these 3 countries do not offer any tariff reductions under SADC.

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Rules of Origin

Introduction to preferential origin

Preferential origin is conferred on goods from particular countries, which have fulfilled certain criteria. In order to obtain preferential origin those criteria generally require that the goods be wholly obtained or have undergone sufficient transformation in the manufacturing processes.

In effect, it means that goods must either (1) be manufactured from raw materials or components which have been grown or produced in the exporting SADC country or, (2) at least undergo a certain amount of working or processing in the SADC exporting country. Such goods are then considered to be "originating".

In all cases there is a list of the working or processing each product manufactured from non-originating materials or components must undergo in order to obtain originating status. These rules are often referred to as "the rules of origin". They set out the least amount of working or processing required on non-originating materials in order for the resulting goods to obtain originating status.

The structure of the list of working or processing requirements is based on the structure of the HS Code of the final product being exported. So before being able to determine what processing a specific product must undergo it is necessary to know its HS classification. More detailed information on tariff classification is available at:

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The SADC Rules of Origin

The SADC Rules of Origin are product-specific whereby each tariff heading is assigned one or several criteria to be fulfilled for origin to be conferred. In order to benefit from preferential treatment on the SADC market, all goods should comply with the rules of origin under the Protocol and must be accompanied by a valid SADC certificate of origin.

The Rules of Origin can be one or a mix of the following types:

  • Wholly produced
  • Change in tariff heading
  • Percentage rule
  • Two-stage transformation for textile and clothing
SADC Rules of Origin

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SADC Certificate of Origin

The SADC Certificate of Origin is both issued and approved by the Customs Department of the Mauritius Revenue Authority. The online application for the SADC Certificate of Origin is made through a Freight Forwarder or Customs House Broker via the TradeNet system. More information on the SADC Certificate can be obtained from the Customs Department:

Mauritius Revenue Authority
Customs Department,
Customs House
Mer Rouge
Port Louis
Tel: (230) 202 0500
Fax: (230) 216 7784

For the Customs Department to approve the Certificate, the following documents must be submitted:

  • SADC Certificate of Origin duly filled
  • Customs Declaration (Export and Import)
  • Export Invoice
  • Appropriate certified costing for value added requirements
  • Any other document as may be required by Customs Department

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Market Access to SADC Countries

The SADC FTA confers to Mauritian exporters either duty free access or partial tariff reduction in other SADC Member States, except for Angola, DRC and Seychelles. This confers a margin of preference to Mauritian exporters as compared to imports from other third countries like China and India. The margin of preference is the difference between the normal custom duty applicable and the rate of duty when exported under SADC. A competitive edge is therefore granted to SADC originating products.

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Non-Tariff Barriers Monitoring Mechanism

In the region, Member States of the SADC, COMESA and EAC have decided to adopt a harmonized approach as regards elimination of NTBs. The three RECs have joined forces to implement a common Non-Tariff Barrier reporting, monitoring and eliminating mechanism, which incorporates concrete timelines for the removal of NTBs in the region.

The online NTB monitoring mechanism is available on Operators can directly report and monitor the resolution of barriers encountered in the COMESA, EAC and SADC regions. This new system enhances transparency and makes it easy to follow-up reported and identified NTBs. This web-based NTB system is accessible to all economic operators, public officials, academic researchers and other interested parties.

Mauritian operators trading in the region are strongly encouraged to use the online system to report any NTB encountered. The website lists the different types of NTBs which can be reported on the system. Once the complaint is registered in the database, it is logged with a reference number. This reference number can be used to monitor who is responsible for dealing with the reported NTB and any specific outcomes. The online system also publishes notifications of procedural, legislative or regulatory changes announced by Member States in the three RECs, enabling all traders to constantly keep up to date with trading requirements.

More information can be obtained either from the website or from the International Trade Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade and MCCI, which are the national public and private sector focal point respectively.

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The SADC Protocol on Trade in Services was signed and adopted by SADC Heads of States/ Government in August 2012, in Maputo, Mozambique. It entered into force after ratification by two-thirds of the SADC Member States on 13 January 2022.

The Protocol aims to progressively liberalise intra-regional trade in services, promote sustainable economic growth and development, enhance diversification and foreign investment in the region, amongst others. It also provides for a mandate to progressively negotiate the removal of barriers to the free movement of services.

Six priority sectors were identified to kickstart the trade in services negotiations namely, Financial Services, Communications, Tourism, Transport, Construction and Energy-related services. These negotiations are expected to result in market access commitments that will provide a predictable legal environment for trade and investment in the sectors within the region.

The first round of negotiations focused on the first four priority sectors, namely in Communications, Financial, Tourism and Transport services. In July 2018, the Committee of Ministers of Trade approved the lists of commitments of 14 Member States, (except for Angola and Comoros) covering these four sectors. In addition, the following Annexes were adopted, namely the Annex on Financial Services , Annex on Telecommunication Services , Annex on Tourism Services and three cross-cutting Annexes on Substantial Business Operations, Interim Arrangement relating to commitments on Subsidies and on Movement of Natural Persons .

The lists of commitments in the two remaining sectors, namely Construction and Energy related services were adopted by the Committee of Ministers of Trade in June 2019 as well as the Annex on Postal and Courier Services .

SADC Member States are now engaged in the second round of the negotiations covering business and distribution services as well as all other sectors not prioritized in the first round namely educational; environmental; health; recreational, cultural and sporting services, amongst others. The negotiations are expected to be concluded by June 2023.

A SADC Business Guide is also available to explain the results of the first round of negotiations and the opportunities arising from the trade in services in the SADC region.

SADC Business Guide

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