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Southern African Customs Union (SACU)

SACU OrbThe Southern African Customs Union (SACU), an African regional economic organization, is the world's oldest customs union, founded in 1910. Its members include Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. The five member states maintain a common external tariff, share customs revenues, and coordinate policies and decision-making on a wide range of trade issues.

On July 16, 2008, the United States and SACU signed a Trade, Investment, and Development Cooperative Agreement (TIDCA).

The TIDCA establishes a forum for consultative discussions, cooperative work, and possible agreements on a wide range of trade issues, with a special focus on customs and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and trade and investment promotion.

The TIDCA is designed to build on and potentially capture some of the progress made in previous Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between the United States and SACU, which were suspended in 2006 due to divergent views on the scope and level of ambition for a FTA. Ideally, the TIDCA will help to put in place the "building blocks" for a future FTA, which remains a longer-term objective for both the United States and SACU.

U.S.-SACU Trade Facts

The United States had a $14.2 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with SACU countries during 2017. Goods exports totaled $5.3 billion; goods imports totaled $9.0 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with SACU countries was $3.7 billion in 2017.

Exports

U.S. goods exports to SACU countries in 2017 were $5.3 billion, up 7.7% ($376 million) from 2016, but down 8.4%  from 2007.

The top 5 U.S. export markets in the SACU countries for 2017 were: South Africa ($5.0 billion), Namibia ($119 million), Botswana ($93 million), Swaziland ($24 million), and Lesotho ($2 million).

The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were: machinery ($1.1 billion), vehicles ($556 million), electrical machinery  ($359 million), mineral fuels ($325 million) and aircraft ($303 million).

U.S. domestic exports of agricultural products to SACU totaled $377 million in 2017.  Leading categories are: poultry meat ($91 million), corn ($39 million), wheat ($29 million), planting seed ($24 million), and tree nuts ($21 million).

Imports 

U.S. goods imports to SACU countries in 2017 were $9.0 billion, up 17.6% ($1.3 billion) from 2016, but down 11% from 2007.

The top 5 U.S. import suppliers from the SACU countries for 2017 were: South Africa ($7.7 billion), Botswana ($772 million), Lesotho ($308 million), Namibia ($119 million), and Swaziland ($21 million).

The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were: precious metal and stone (platinum, diamonds) ($3.7 billion), vehicles ($1.2 billion), iron and steel ($922 million), ores, slag, and ash (slag, titanium) ($397 million), and machinery ($370 million).

U.S. imports of agricultural products from SACU totaled $340 million in 2017.  Leading categories include: fresh fruit ($62 million), tree nuts ($57 million), wine and beer ($54 million), raw beet and sugar cane ($47 million), processed fruit and vegetables ($30 million), and planting seed ($15 million).

Trade Balance

The U.S. goods trade deficit with SACU countries was $3.7 billion in 2017, a 35.3% increase ($967 million) over 2016. The U.S. goods trade deficit with SACU countries decreased 14% over 2007

Investment 

U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in SACU countries (stock) was $5.1 billion in 2016 (latest data available), down 5.4% from 2015.

Reported SACU countries’ FDI in the United States (stock) was $13.1 billion in 2016 (latest data available), up 5.8% from 2015.