In December 2000, the countries of MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) signed a framework agreement towards the creation of a free trade area between MERCOSUR and South Africa. This framework agreement established a negotiating committee to work towards the establishment of a free trade agreement.
In December 2004, MERCOSUR and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) - composed of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland - signed a preferential trade agreement. In conjunction with the agreement, they issued an understanding on the conclusion of their preferential trade agreement, in which they expressed satisfaction at completing this agreement and reaffirmed their commitment to pursue further negotiations and enhance bilateral cooperation aimed at facilitating the implementation of the agreement. Ministers instructed that these negotiations begin as soon as possible and envisaged additional protocols to the agreement in customs and the automotive sector.
Negotiations continued, with the next meeting taking place in May 2005. At the tenth meeting , held in South Africa in August 2006, Parties agreed on the importance of concluding the current phase of negotiations.
The Preferential Trade Agreement Between the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), was signed on 15 December 2008, in Salvador, Brazil; and, on 03 April 2009 in Maseru, Lesotho.