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18 September 2019

Summit of the SACU Heads of State & Government, Gaborone International Convention Centre, Gaborone, Botswana - Friday, 12 April 2013

10 April 2013

The Republic of Botswana will host a Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Heads of State and Government (HoSG) Summit on 12 April 2013 at the Gaborone International Convention Centre, Gaborone, Botswana.

The Summit will be attended His Majesty King Mswati III of Swaziland, His Excellency President Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, His Excellency President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and The Right Honourable Prime Minister of Lesotho, Dr. Thomas Thabane.

It is anticipated that each Member State’s delegation will also include a number of Cabinet Ministers, as well as senior government officials from Ministries and Departments responsible for finance, and trade and industry matters.

This will be the fourth meeting of the HoSG of SACU Member States. Their last meeting was on 25 March 2011 in Pretoria, South Africa.

The SACU Summits allow the HoSG to provide strategic direction in order to enhance SACU’s potential as an instrument to promote deeper economic integration amongst its members, and within the Southern African region as a whole. This Summit will give the SACU HoSG an opportunity to receive progress reports on the implementation of the priority areas in the SACU work programme.

Regional Industrial Development Policy

At its last Summit the HoSG directed that, SACU should embark on a focussed drive to promote the industrialisation of all Member States.

To give effect to this directive SACU initiated a comprehensive work programme which emphasises the development of a “Regional Industrial Development Policy”. This work is being co-ordinated by a dedicated SACU Task Team.

In parallel, SACU has agreed to start work on joint cross border projects aimed at increasing industrial development cooperation, and the creation and strengthening of cross-border value chains. In order to kick-start this work SACU identified the pilot priority sectors of agro-processing and automobile manufacturing, including automotive components.

Review of the Revenue Sharing Arrangement

In 2010, the SACU Council of Ministers decided to review the SACU revenue sharing arrangement. This review deals with the composition of the Common Revenue Pool, the formula used to distribute revenue, as well as matters relating to its operation.

In 2011 a study on the options for a new revenue sharing arrangement for SACU was completed. The SACU Council of Ministers decided that this report should be used as an input into the review process. It also directed that a Task Team, comprising Senior Finance Officials from each Member State should be established to develop additional options on the revenue sharing arrangement.

A challenge for SACU, especially for its smaller Member States, is the reliance on SACU revenues and the volatility thereof. The new revenue sharing arrangement will have to address issues of volatility.

Trade Facilitation

At its Third Summit the HoSG approved the principles that would underpin a SACU trade facilitation programme in order to support the development of sustainable and improved economies in SACU.

The programme that has been developed primarily focusses on customs reform and modernisation, and assists SACU Member States to comply with international customs instruments, and to revamp elements of their respective Custom’s Administrations.

Development of SACU Institutions

Following the historic decision by the SACU Heads of State and Government in April 2010 to institutionalise their meetings, the SACU Agreement of 2002, is being amended to integrate the Summit of Heads of State and Government, as an institution of SACU. Discussions on the amendments to institutionalise the Summit of Heads of State and Government are now at an advanced stage. The SACU Summit will provide political and strategic direction to SACU.

The SACU Member States are also engaged in discussions on the establishment of the SACU Tribunal. The SACU Agreement, 2002, makes provision for a Tribunal to resolve disputes regarding the interpretation or application of the SACU Agreement.

SACU continues with its efforts to establish the SACU Tariff Board, and to facilitate the formation of Member State’s National Bodies. The Tariff Board will be the SACU institution that will make recommendations to the SACU Council of Ministers related to all SACU customs tariff matters. The National Bodies will undertake national investigations and then recommend amendments to the SACU customs tariff to the Tariff Board.

Unified Engagement in Trade Negotiations

In accordance with the SACU Agreement, SACU Member States have to adopt a common approach in their trade negotiations with other countries and economic groupings. With this in mind, the SACU Council of Ministers has directed that SACU should enter into all trade negotiations with third parties as a single bloc, develop and advance common negotiating positions based on a common mandate. This is a necessary requirement given that SACU is a Customs Union with a Common External Tariff.

At the last SACU Summit the HoSG endorsed a set of twelve principles that will guide SACU in all trade negotiations. Following the adoption of the principles, SACU Member States have pursued a unified approach in all negotiations with third parties such as the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union; the tripartite free trade agreement involving COMESA, the East African Community and SADC; and, with India the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

Trade in Services

The Summit will also provide an opportunity for HoSG to consider some other SACU activities that have been brought forward for implementation.

The issue of trade in services has now received priority attention. While trade in services has become a major contributor to gross domestic product in all SACU countries, the 2002 SACU Agreement only deals with trade in goods and is silent on how trade in services should be handled. SACU has had to confront this issue as the liberalisation of trade in services increasingly features in its trade negotiations with third parties.

As a result, SACU has decided to embark on a drive to incorporate trade in services into the SACU work programme. SACU has identified the services sectors of communication, construction, energy, finance, transport and tourism as key initial priority areas where work should commence.

The Summit will therefore provide an opportunity for HoSG to consider this matter and provide strategic guidance.

SACU Headquarters Building Construction Project

In September 2012 work began on constructing a new SACU headquarters in Windhoek, Namibia. The HoSG will receive a progress report on the construction of the Headquarters.

Issued by:

The Executive Secretary
SACU Secretariat
Private Bag 13285
Windhoek
Namibia
Tel: +264 61 295 8000
Fax: +264 61 245 611
Email: info@sacu.int