All products imported from fellow countries of the South African Development Community (SADC) into Mauritius will now be duty-free.

Customs duties were removed on all imported products coming from countries which are members of SADC – Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – since the start of the New Year.

The official report published on December 28, 2013 by the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce Industry (MCCI) announced that because of the Customs Tariff (Amendment of Schedule) (No.5) regulations 2013, the island has removed customs duties on a number of sensitive products on which taxes were still being charged.

The Free Trade Area of SADC was launched in August 2008 to manage the abolition of the remainder of customs duties which touched diverse sensitive products, for instance, in the case of Mauritius, plastic products, edible oil, wheat flour, margarine, soaps, baby napkins, iron bars and soft drinks.

To benefit from tariff preferences under SADC, the MCCI advises all importers to take the necessary measures so that their documents are valid and to enforce the SADC certificate of origin for every imported product.

This move to abolish customs duties for the SADC countries started in the year 2000 when the SADC Trade Protocol was applied in order to provide the ongoing abolition of customs duties on all products – with a longer tariff phase-down period for sensitive products.

For the first nine months of 2013, Statistic Mauritius data showed that trade with SADC countries amounted to Rs 10,163 million on the imports front, while exports contributed Rs 8,998 million. The main supplier remained South Africa with 71.8 per cent, while it also constituted the main buyer as well with 50.2 per cent share. Madagascar was the second largest buyer among SADC countries with a share of 37.2 per cent.

For 2012, Statistics Mauritius states that the value of imports from SADC countries were valued at Rs 13,561 million while exports from SADC countries was estimated at Rs 12,735 million. The trade report identifies the main buyers as South Africa with 52.6 per cent and Madagascar with 36.4 per cent share respectively. It states that South Africa was also the main supplier with 77.7 per cent share.

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Caption: The island has removed customs duties on a number of sensitive products on which taxes were still being charged. (Source: Southern African Trust)