Southern Africa: External Factors Hamper Sacu Growth

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein says global and regional headwinds have limited the Southern African Customs Union's ambition to achieve growth.

He said Sacu economies are experiencing headwinds stemming from certain external shocks, such as the prevailing drought spells and downside risks on global trade, as well as productive constraints within the region.

Schlettwein was speaking at a press briefing on Namibia assuming chairmanship of Sacu heads of state and government, the Sacu council of ministers, and the Sacu commission.

Namibia took over the rotational chairmanship from Lesotho last week, which will be from 2019 to 2020.

"These external and regional factors limit our ambition to achieve broad-based poverty reduction, the creation of jobs, and achieving shared prosperity for all in the shortest time possible," the minister said.

In terms of its vision, the customs union aims to be an engine for regional integration and development, industrial and economic diversification, the expansion of intra-regional trade and investment, and boosting its competitiveness within the global economy.

"The 2002 Sacu agreement offers a relevant framework for the union to advance its developmental ambitions, engendered in its vision and work programme. The integration of our economies within the customs area is an important catalyst for regional integration within the Southern African Development Community and the continent," the minister stated.

Speaking at the handover of the chairmanship, Schlettwein said the chair comes with obligations to drive the Sacu work programme towards achieving their objectives.

"Namibia looks forward to working closely with the Sacu membership in furtherance of these objectives. In the coming days and weeks, I will work closely with the outgoing chair and the Sacu secretariat on the specific aspects of the work programme," he noted.

Speaking at the same platform, outgoing Sacu chair, Lesotho's finance minister, Moeketsi Majoro, presented a report on the implementation of the Sacu work programme for Namibia's consideration, information and further action.

"As you will appreciate from the report, the main focus of the council during Lesotho's term has been the implementation of the work programme for the ministerial task teams," he said, adding that there is a need to fast-track the implementation and details on activities as contained in the report.

"I wish to once again congratulate you (Namibia) on your assumption of the chair of Sacu, and assure you of my support and that of the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho in ensuring that we move the Sacu agenda forward. We wish you the best of success in presiding over the business of Sacu in the next 12 months," Majoro added.

- charmaine@namibian.com.na; Twitter: Char_Ngatjiheue.

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