TO promote regional economic recovery and integration, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states have agreed to refocus the SACU Work Programme to prioritise industrialisation, trade facilitation and logistics in the region.
This was highlighted by the Executive Secretary of SACU, Paulina Mbala Elago, at the Seventh SACU Summit on Thursday. The Summit, which marks the union’s first in-person meeting since the outbreak of Covid-19, primarily focused on the implementation of the SACU Work Programme.
According to Elago, industrialisation can be achieved through the development of regional value chains. She said that this effort will be guided by the Vision for Industrialisation, which aims to develop a diversified, competitive, sustainable and equitable industrial base that supports structural transformation and economic integration in the SACU region.
To realise this Vision, Elago explained, SACU has selected priority sectors, which include the Agri-processing, textiles and clothing, cosmetic and essential oils and pharmaceuticals sectors.
“We successfully convened Sectoral Roundtables and analysis on these priority sectors, which culminated in a Ministerial Investment Roundtable held on 12 and 13 April 2022, in Gaborone, Botswana, to showcase and profile the region’s development potential as well as investment and export opportunities in these sectors,” she added.
With regards to trade facilitation and logistics, Elago said that the union intends to create a seamless trade environment for cross-border movements. This, she said, will be achieved through the application of innovative and emerging technology to streamline processes and to enhance collaboration, while detecting and deterring illicit trade in goods within the Common Customs Area.
“The Programme also aims address obstacles and hindrances facing businesses that are involved in cross-border trade. Our goal is to develop solutions that are practical, transformational towards enhanced efficiency and that will reduce trade related transaction costs and improve compliance and security of the supply chain amongst others,” Elago explained.
She added that Revenue and Customs Authorities in the SACU region are already working to implement a dynamic Customs Modernisation Programme to achieve this.
Another key priority that she highlighted, with regards to the union’s objectives, is the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which, according to her, is the best opportunity for the region to achieve its integration objectives, regionally and continentally.
“For SACU, the key is to position herself strategically to take full advantage of the export opportunities and ultimately diversify and broaden its industrial capacity to supply the African Continent and beyond,” Elago added.