TO promote regional economic recovery and integration, Member States of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have agreed to refocus SACU’s work program to prioritize industrialization, trade facilitation trade and logistics in the region.
This was underscored by SACU Executive Secretary Paulina Mbala Elago at the seventh SACU summit on Thursday. The summit, which marks the union’s first in-person meeting since the Covid-19 outbreak, focused primarily on implementing SACU’s work programme.
According to Elago, industrialization can be achieved through the development of regional value chains. She said this effort will be guided by the Vision for industrializationwhich aims to develop a diversified, competitive, sustainable and equitable industrial base that supports structural transformation and economic integration in the SACU region.
To achieve this vision, Elago explained, SACU has selected priority sectors, which include agro-processing, textiles and apparel, cosmetics and essential oils, and pharmaceuticals.
“We have successfully organized sector roundtables and analyzes on these priority sectors, culminating in a Ministerial Investment Roundtable held on 12-13 April 2022, in Gaborone, Botswana, to present and profile the potential of development in the region as well as investment and export opportunities in these sectors,” she added.
Regarding trade facilitation and logistics, Elago said the union intends to create a seamless business environment for cross-border movement. This, she said, will be achieved through the application of innovative and emerging technologies to streamline processes and enhance collaboration, while detecting and deterring illicit trade in goods within the common customs area.
“The program also aims to remove barriers and impediments faced by businesses involved in cross-border trade. Our goal is to develop solutions that are practical, transformative towards increased efficiency and that will reduce trade-related transaction costs and improve supply chain compliance and security, among others,” Elago explained.
She added that the revenue and customs authorities in the SACU region are already working to implement an aggressive customs modernization program to achieve this.
Another key priority she highlighted, with regard to the objectives of the union, is the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which she says is the best opportunity for the region to achieve its integration objectives, at regional and continental level. .
“For SACU, the key is to position itself strategically to take full advantage of export opportunities and ultimately diversify and expand its industrial capacity to supply the African continent and beyond,” Elago added.