Trade in goods and services constitute a major area of cooperation that supports SADC’s goals of economic development and poverty eradication. Recognising that a framework for trade cooperation will benefit the region, SADC passed its Protocol on Trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region on 24th August 1996.
The Protocol intends to further liberalise intra-regional trade by creating mutually beneficial trade arrangements, thereby improving investment and productivity in the region. It advocates that Member States eliminate barriers to trade, ease customs procedures, harmonise trade policies based on international standards, and prohibit unfair business practices. The Protocol also sets out institutional arrangements for implementation and contains annexes detailing policies on Rules of Origin, customs cooperation, harmonisation of trade documentation, transit facilities, and trade development.
SADC amended the Protocol in 2000, 2007, and 2008, clarifying aspects of Rules of Origin and safeguard measures and incorporating new annexes on settlement of disputes and trade in sugar.