01 March 2024

11th SACU Commission Meeting - Opening Remarks By The Chairperson Of The Commission, Mr. D.E.Masilela, Principal Secretary, Ministry For Finance, Swaziland

6 July 2007

Windhoek, Namibia
Madam Executive Secretary,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start off by welcoming you all to this 11th SACU Commission meeting. This is my first meeting as Chairperson of the SACU Commission and also the last under Swaziland’s chairmanship. I feel humbled to be the one to Chair this meeting and do hope that you will afford me the same cooperation extended to my predecessor.

May I also take this opportunity to thank the Government of Namibia for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting and the hospitality extended to all the delegations. I do hope I speak on behalf of all delegations but certainly the reception my delegation received upon arrival in Windhoek up until now has been nothing but excellent.

Turning now to the task at hand today, it is clear that we have a long agenda. However, with your cooperation, I am sure that we shall go through it with speed.

As we begin this meeting, I would like to take you back nine months ago when Swaziland chaired its first meeting of the Commission in September 2006 in Gaborone, Botswana. The key issues on the agenda then were the developments at the regional level, which included preparations for the historic SADC Extra-ordinary Heads of State Summit which gave momentum to the debate for deeper integration in the sub-region; the need to make a decision on the permanent arrangement for the management of the Common Revenue Pool; and various trade related issues including the development of a Common Negotiating Mechanism as well as identifying an African country/region to begin negotiations with.

On this basis, Swaziland identified priority areas of focus to be pursued during its term of chairmanship. I am happy to note that, with your support, substantial work has been done in all of these areas. The debate on the deeper regional integration and its implications for SACU has matured within SACU. Various options for SACU have been identified and debated. A clear preference has been expressed for using SACU as a nucleus for the SADC Customs Union and this decision is underpinned by the need to consolidate SACU. Currently, further work is ongoing to further inform this position.

A lot of work has been done to inform the decision on a permanent arrangement for the Common Revenue Pool. At the 11th Commission meeting, we received a report that sought to bring clarity to the issues surrounding the management of the Common Revenue Pool. We also raised some concerns with the analysis that had been undertaken and requested that further work be done to identify more precisely the implications of the recommended revenue management options.

Hopefully, we shall be able to take this work further during this meeting.

On the trade front, substantial work has been done. Work on the development of a Common Negotiating Mechanism has started. It is anticipated that this will soon be brought to Commission for consideration and recommendation made to Council. We have also identified the East African Community as a priority for our next set of negotiations.

Currently, work is ongoing to better inform our strategy for these negotiations.

Whilst this appeared quite a daunting task nine months ago, a great deal of work has been achieved. There however, still remains a lot yet to be done. As a country, we pledge our support and commitment to the realization of this agenda.

We are holding this meeting against a backdrop of positive forecasts about the economic performance of the African economies. The African Development Bank recently launched its African Economic Outlook, which shows positive economic performance for the economies of the subregion.

Economic growth is expected to reach 6% this year in Africa and about 4.5% in the SACU economies. Let us collectively make sure that this positive forecast is achieved in our sub-region and where possible surpassed.

At the same time, the African Development Bank has released an Africa Competitiveness Report, which looks at our competitiveness as a Continent. Unfortunately there are some disturbing issues coming out of this report. We need to take time in our economies to address some of the weaknesses identified in the Report. Whilst not all is gloom and despair, there is positive news coming out of the Competitiveness Report.

This meeting is also being held at the same time that an important African Union Summit is taking place in Accra, Ghana. The entire continent anxiously awaits the outcome of the deliberations on the “Grand debate on an African Union Government”. It is my hope that the deliberations in Accra will be based on a thorough examination of the implications of the African Union Government. One hopes that the role of the Regional Economic Communities in contributing to the growth and development of the continent will also be seriously considered.

In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the agenda. I am happy to note that we have very important issues to deal with, both from the trade and finance perspectives. The issues around the management of the Common Revenue Pool are still with us. On the trade side, we have to give direction on the SACU-India negotiations, there are issues around the negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU and we also have to make some headway on the preparations for negotiations with the East African Community.

With these few words, I would like to wish all of us, some fruitful and constructive deliberations.

I thank you.