Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday reaffirmed the country's commitment to turn the Southern African Development Community (SADC) into an example of regional integration, taking into account its geostrategic position and the existing energy potential.
Nyusi, who was addressing the opening ceremony of the first SADC Business Forum, in Maputo, said it is critical to fast-track reforms for a better business environment and macroeconomic stability, which are indispensable for attracting foreign investment to the regional bloc.
"We are quite certain that the SADC Business Forum will bring together initiatives and projects, and will match synergies to create opportunities according to the existing potential of each member state," he said.
Nyusi, who is also the current SADC Chairperson, pointed out that the region, with a market of 350 million consumers, wants to leverage the existing potential so that there is more trade and investment within the region as well as between SADC and the outside world.
Exports from one SADC state to another, Nyusi said, grew from 15.2 per cent of the region's total exports in 2008 to 19.5 per cent in 2018, when the total exports of the region amounted to 154 billion US dollars. As for SADC's total imports of 149 billion dollars in 2018, only 19.1 per cent of this was trade within SADC.
Despite the growth, Nyusi highlighted that trade between SADC members remains below 20 per cent of total trade, despite the creation of the SADC Free Trade Area in 2008.
Nyusi pointed out challenges such as the dependence of certain countries on raw material exports, leading to a lack of complementarity among member states.
As for the reforms underway with a regional impact, Nyusi said Mozambique is proceeding with a review of its investment, labour, electricity and ports laws, and will soon conclude a review of the trade code in order to adopt the best international practices.
Nyusi admitted that there are prevailing complaints regarding SADC intra-regional trade related to non-tariff barriers especially on tax, migration and road traffic. "We are committed to resolve these questions, to facilitate trade among our states," he declared.
There are challenges ahead which entail collective cooperation among the member states, he said. The regional ambition to establish a Customs Union which will evolve to a Common Market and Monetary Union pose a challenge which SADC must fast-track to meet.