Southern Africa: Sacu Backs Proposals to Advance Industrialisation

22 September 2020

The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Ministers of Finance and Trade support the proposal of working together, through a regionally coordinated approach, to advance industrialisation, trade market access regionally and continentally, and to strengthen resource mobilisation.

South Africa's Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, chaired the fourth joint Finance and Trade Ministers' virtual Ministerial Retreat meeting on Monday.

The SACU Ministerial retreat noted that its development trajectory should be anchored on a clear industrialisation path that provides for the development of regional value chains to strengthen SACU's productive capacity.

The meeting reaffirmed the outcomes of the SACU Ministers of Trade and Industry of 28 August 2020, as forming the basis for cooperation for regional industrialisation, investment and export promotion.

The Ministers acknowledged that a trade and industrialisation agenda would require the mobilisation of substantial financial resources. Going forward, SACU must design appropriate and effective financing instruments by mobilising the national Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and private sector enterprises within the region to finance this vision.

The role of the private sector, through collaboration with regional business chambers, in improving the business environment was also highlighted.

The Ministers agreed on refined development priorities for the union, within the changing global and regional developments.

They also agreed on activities that could be prioritised for SACU going forward and their sequencing.

"Ministers observed that much disagreement remains around issues involving the Revenue Sharing Formula (RSF) and Tariff Setting architecture, respectively. However, in the spirit of unity, they were unanimous that specific attention should be put on those issues that propel SACU forward," the Ministry said.

The Ministerial Retreat also noted the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SACU common resource pool.

They agreed to work jointly to implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The SACU consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Eswatini. It was established in 1910, making it the world's oldest Customs Union.

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