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As a South African exporter, you may be eligible to benefit from the SACU-MERCOSUR preferential trade agreement (PTA). The PTA, which entered into force in April 2016, stipulates preferential import tariffs for exports to SACU (South African Customs Union) and MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South) countries. The PTA covers over 1000 product lines, with preferential tariffs ranging from 10-100%. Eligible exporters need to submit SACU-MERCOSUR certificates of origin with their cargo to benefit.

If your goods were either wholly or partially manufactured in South Africa and fall into the product categories set out in the PTA, you can apply for a MERCOSUR certificate of origin.  The chemical, textile, steel, plastic, automotive, electronics, capital goods, and agricultural industries in particular benefit from this agreement.

The certificate is valid for export from SACU member countries to the following (MERCOSUR) countries:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

Why a SACU-MERCOSUR certificate of origin?

You gain a competitive advantage when exporting with a SACU-MERCOSUR certificate of origin. If a SACU-MERCOSUR certificate accompanies your cargo and your cargo falls into the specified product categories, customs charges are reduced, or no tariffs on your shipment. In turn, your buyers will enjoy savings, which makes your product more desirable to the MERCOSUR market.

How do I use this document?

First, you will need to register as a SACU-MERCOSUR exporter and apply for SACU-MERCOSUR certificates of origin (they come in packs of 10). You will need to fill in one certificate for each export to a MERCOSUR country.

Figure 1 below is an example of a blank SACU-MERCOSUR certificate with instructions on how to complete it.

Below is an example of a completed SACU-MERCOSUR certificate.

How do I complete a SACU-MERCOSUR certificate of origin?

As you will notice from the above example, each section of the certificate is numbered (sections 1-12). Below is a guide on how to complete each section.

  • Section 1: Fill in the exporter’s name, address, and export code.
  • Section 2: Fill in the acronym “SACU” in the first line (to indicate that you are exporting from a SACU member state), and the name of the country you are exporting to (e.g. Brazil) in the second line.
  • Section 3: Fill in the buyer’s name and full address.
  • Section 4: Select “NO” unless you have imported a product that is under a quota from a MERCOSUR country AND used it in the production of your product of export. On the certificate of origin that you receive with your import, it will state whether the product is under a quota or not.
  • Section 5: Indicate whether your products originate in one of South Africa’s Export Processing Zones or Industrial Development Zones (mark with an x).
  • Section 6: Fill in the mode of transport (road/sea/air) used to export the goods. For example “Airfreight from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro” or “Seafreight, Cape Town to São Paulo”.
  • Section 7: For official use (leave open)
  • Section 8: Provide a basic description of the goods and how they are packed. Goods must be described using a reasonably full commercial description so that the appropriate tariff heading can be determined. The quantity stated must agree with the quantities on the invoice. Are there any marks and numbers on the packaging? If not state “no marks and numbers”. If goods are in bulk and not packed, state “in bulk”. Do you have a container number?  An example description would be “1 x 5-metre container containing 2000 cans of tuna fish (16041410)”. NB: List all items’ tariff codes. Draw a horizontal line under the last item listed and draw a z-shaped line, or cross through the unused space.

(Note: If you include non-originating goods (i.e. goods that do not originate from a SACU country) along with originating goods, the non-originating goods must be marked with an asterisk (*) on your invoice. You must also include this statement in section 8 after the description of goods: “Goods marked * on the invoice are non-originating and are not covered by this certificate of origin.”)

  • Section 9: State the cargo’s total weight (including packaging material).
  • Section 10: State the number and date on the commercial invoice accompanying your cargo.
  • Section 11: Add your signature (including your initials, surname, and capacity), place of signing, and the date. Note: If the certificate is signed on behalf of a clearing agent, the name of the clearing agent must be stated below the signature. The signature may not be mechanically reproduced or made with a rubber stamp.
  • Section 12: For official office use only (leave blank).
  • Back Page: Overleaf is a section to fill in a brief description of the origin of the goods. Specifically, mention how the goods were manufactured, and justify why they are of South African origin. For example: “These goods were manufactured in a South African factory using locally sourced South African materials”. Also list any supporting documents that you can supply as proof of origin (for example, a manufacturer’s declaration). These supporting documents are optional.

How do I apply?

To apply for SACU-MERCOSUR certificates, you must first register at customs as a SACU-MERCOSUR exporter. If you would like to find out if you are registered, contact our offices on 087 550 1038.

To order a pack of SACU-MERCOSUR certificates, visit our website or contact us at the number above.

If you would like to learn more about the other South African trade agreements you can benefit from, read our blog post on Trade Agreements & Certificates of Origin.

Tracy Venter

Tracy transitioned from industry to founding Import Export License in 2011, aiding importers and exporters with customs compliance. In 2014, she launched Trade Logistics, focusing on supporting startups and SMMEs in international trade. Since then, Tracy's team has assisted 35,000+ businesses, reaching 32,000 traders monthly through newsletters. She's contributed to publications like Entrepreneurs Magazine and SME Toolkit, spoken at trade events, and participated in customs forums. Import Export License helped with the pilot trial to launch customs' new online registration platform (RLA). Through Trade Logistics she has launched 3 online import-export training courses. She holds an Honours degree from Stellenbosch University and a Cum Laude Masters from Middlesex University. In her spare time, Tracy enjoys running, mountain biking, playing piano, and cherishing moments with her husband and four children.