Customs Union

A trading arrangement that entails the elimination of barriers to trade among participating nations and common barriers to trade with other countries outside the group.

The South African Customs Union (SACU), renewed in 2002, is the worlds' oldest custom union, first formed in 1910. The customs union has shared tariffs and coordinated trade policies. The union consolidates a free-trade area among 50 million Africans. It lets lorries cross its members' borders with minimal paperwork. Meanwhile, governments speak with one voice at trade talks. SACU has a completely open market, so member countries must coordinate everything from macroeconomic policy to competition law.