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This article contributes to Southern Africa, Southern Rhodesia and South African historiography. Although work has been done on customs relations between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, a study that examines ties exclusively and their links to settler colonialism has yet to be done. Foregrounded by the establishment and development of customs ties between the two, this article focuses on the nature of the customs agreements and the shifts over time, thus adding a new dimension to settler colonialism. The period under study was marked by an increasing divergence between the two countries in the realm of politics and economics. Global developments such as the Great Depression exposed and contributed to the widening cracks on the issue of customs ties between the two countries. While customs agreements continued to bind the two countries especially economically, Southern Rhodesia and South Africa became less accommodative to the other's economic requests, which in the case of Southern Rhodesia extended to a desire to loosen political ties and be less reliant on South Africa economically. Divergence of interests over the period under study saw a relationship marked by antagonism, competition and at times cooperation between the two settler colonial governments. This article unpacks how these aspects of the relationship emerged by way of the customs ties and what this relationship contributes to expanding understanding of settler colonialism more generally and Southern Africa in particular.