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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 has $11.6 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with SACU countries during 2009. Goods exports totaled $4.8 billion; Imports totaled $6.8 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with SACU countries was $2.0 billion in 2009. 


U.S. goods exports to SACU in 2009 were $4.8 billion, down 30.1% ($2.1 billion) from 2008. 

The SACU Countries, together would rank 37th as an export market for the United States in 2009. 

Roughly 93% of U.S. exports to SACU went to South Africa in 2009. The U.S. export markets in SACU for 2009 were: South Africa ($4.5 billion) Namibia ($202 million), Botswana ($93 million), Lesotho ($17 million) and Swaziland ($15 million). 

The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2009 were: Machinery ($1.0 billion), Vehicles ($525 million), Electrical Machinery ($512 million) Aircraft ($343 million), and Optic and Medical Instruments ($314 million). 

U.S. exports of agricultural products to SACU totaled $171 million in 2009. Leading categories are: planting seeds ($13 million), processed fruit and vegetables (excluding soybean oil) ($11 million), dairy products ($10 million), and wheat ($10 million). 


U.S. goods imports from SACU totaled $6.8 billion in 2009, down 38.5% ($4.2 billion) from 2008. 

The SACU Countries, together, would rank 34th as the largest supplier of imports to the United States in 2009. 

Over 87% of U.S. imports from SACU were from South Africa. The U.S. import suppliers from SACU for 2009 were: South Africa ($5.9 billion), Namibia ($329 million), Lesotho ($304 million), Botswana ($132 million), and Swaziland ($110 million). 

The five largest import categories in 2009 were: Precious Stones (platinum and diamonds) ($2.4 billion), Vehicles ($1.4 billion), Ores, Slag, Ash ($530 million), Iron and Steel ($353 million), and Machinery ($271 million). 

U.S. imports of agricultural products from SACU totaled $181 million in 2009. Leading categories include: fresh fruit ($40 million), wine and beer ($40 million), raw beet and cane sugar ($27 million), and tree nuts ($16 million). 

Balance of Merchandise Trade 

The U.S. goods trade deficit with SACU was $2.0 billion in 2009, down 52.4% ($2.2 billion) from 2008. 


U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in SACU countries (stock) was $4.9 billion in 2008 (latest data available), down 5.4% from 2007. 

SACU countries’ FDI in the United States (stock) was $643 million in 2008 (latest data available), up 164.6% from 2007.