On November 4, 2002, U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick informed Congress of the government`s intention to begin negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the South African Customs Union (SACU), consisting of Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland. This agreement would be the first US free trade agreement with a sub-Saharan African country. Lesotho is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, renegotiated with the aim of creating free trade agreements between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region and the EU. These new agreements, called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), are indispensable to reciprocal free trade agreements and are compatible with the WTO`s multilateral trade rules. Negotiations were originally scheduled to be completed by December 2004, but the deadline was extended to the end of 2006, after negotiations ended at the end of 2004 and resumed at the end of 2005. Discussions continued slowly until April 2006, when U.S. and SACU officials decided to suspend negotiations and begin a longer-term joint work programme.
On July 16, 2008, USTR Susan Schwab signed a Trade Cooperation, Investment and Development Agreement (TIDCA) with SACU Trade Ministers. SACU is the United States` second-largest trading partner in Africa after Nigeria, whose exports are almost exclusively petroleum products.. . . .