Maseru — Intra-regional trade has doubled over the last decade, however, customs operations have not transformed to cope with the increased trade and travellers, finance minister said. Speaking at the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) Regional Customs Trade Forum launch last week, Finance Minister Leketekete Ketso said the forum would enable Sacu member states to respond to needs in trade facilitation and improvements in customs operations.
The forum, launched under the theme “Government and Business: partner for economic development” is the first platform for regional engagement between Sacu member states and the private sector in the region. “This forum is a major step in the right direction and it is my hope that it will act as a catalyst for greater dialogue and partnership between Sacu governments and private sector,” Ketso said.
Ketso said through the forum, the private sector would have an opportunity to share with the government, its experiences with customs as well as trade. In an effort to enhance trade facilitation, Sacu has also embarked on a Regional Trade Partnerships Project which will serve to establish and strengthen partnerships between customs authorities, the trading community and government agencies in the trade supply chain.
The project, funded by the Swedish government, will help develop a regional trade framework that will enhance customs-business relations. Lesotho Revenue Authority Commissioner General Thabo Letjama said partnership in trade requires a structured and meaningful dialogue between Customs and the private sector to support and ease trade both in-country and across the region.
Letjama added that: “The current conditions of the global economy and socio-economic developments in each country have a strong influence on the activities that are pursued by the customs administrations therefore our regional programme needs to be mindful of global developments and peculiar characteristics of our own economies.”
Present at the launch were the Minister of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing Sekh’ulumi Ntsoaole, Chairperson of the Sacu Commission Motena Tšolo, Erick Kieck, Director of capacity building at the World customs Organisation as well as private sector representatives.