Although South Africa has signed GATT and has been liberalizing import controls with the intention of eventually removing them completely, some classes of imports are still subject to licenses and control regulations. Many goods enter South Africa duty-free. Goods that are subject to a duty pay an average rate of 12%. There are six levels of tariffs: 0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, and 30%. For protected industries such as textiles and automobiles, high tariffs were supposed to be reduced from 100% to about 45–50% with 8–12 years.
South Africa maintains a common customs area with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, and the black homelands of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei, and Venda, through the South African Customs Union. The South African Development Community intended to open a free trade area between member countries by 2000. Common customs, excise, and a value-added tax (VAT) of 14% are levied. Specific excise duties of about 10% are levied on beverages, tobacco, petroleum products, and motor vehicles. Ad valorem excise duties are levied on office machinery, film, and luxury consumer goods. Export licenses are required for a number of products.