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‘SACU members need each other’

by Sunday Express
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Staff Writer

THE Southern African Customs Union (SACU) head office was officially opened on Thursday in Windhoek, Namibia amid calls for member states to work together to fast-track development.

Lesotho was represented by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing who took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the four-storey building alongside Presidents Hage Geingob, Jacob Zuma and Ian Khama of Namibia, South Africa and Botswana respectively. Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini was also in attendance.

The building was completed in April this year, and the SACU Secretariat moved in at the end of October.

Established in 1910, SACU is the oldest existing customs union in the world. The Union seeks to promote sustainable economic growth and development for employment-creation and poverty reduction among the people of southern Africa.

In his remarks, Mr Zuma said no member-country could prosper on its own since their destinies were intertwined and economies inextricably linked.

“Developing economies such as ours face widening trade deficits resulting from low commodity prices and weak demand for exports, which have come to put pressure on our foreign exchange reserves and, consequently, our fiscal and monetary policies,” he said.

“It is against this background that I call upon all our member-states to work together to  further  deepen  and  strengthen  work  on  the  priority  areas  of  focus  of  SACU, including  a  review  of  the  revenue -sharing model,  intellectual  property,  industrial development, industrial  policy,  and  strengthening  the  capacity  of  the  SACU Secretariat, amongst others.”

Mr Zuma further said SACU needed to create an enabling environment for economies to prosper.

“It cannot be business as usual. We need to develop practical work programmes that address the challenges we collectively face to promote complementarities between our economies,” he noted.

“We need to consider a funding mechanism that will ensure speedy and effective implementation of agreed programmes. This requires that we take charge of our destiny due to limited resources and aid globally.”

Economic diversification, Mr Zuma added, was crucial for sustainable economic growth and development.

“An economy and export basket concentrated in a few products could be very vulnerable and prone to destabilisation. Sustainable and continued economic development becomes very unlikely, if not impossible, in such a destabilised economic environment,” he said.

“We must therefore act purposefully to strengthen and identify competitive advantages in value added production and trade, including through the development of complementary cross-border value chains.”

On his part, Dr Geingob emphasised the need for prosperity to be shared and growth inclusive among and within member states.

“Let us be cognisant of the dangers of unequal economic development. What we want for our Union and region are economies characterized by sustained and inclusive growth as well as stable political climates,” he said.

“I call upon all our member states to work together to further deepen and strengthen work on the priority areas of focus of SACU, including a review of the revenue sharing model, intellectual property, industrial development, industrial policy, and strengthening the capacity of the SACU

Secretariat, among others.”




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