01 March 2024

Address By The SACU Executive Secretary, Ms. Tswelopele Moremi - SACU Breakfast Dissemination Seminar On The African Economic Outlook 2006/07

Windhoek, Namibia, 18 June 2007

Director of Ceremonies;
Our Keynote Speaker, Honorable Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Minister of Finance;
Honorable Ministers;
Honorable Members of Parliament;
Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of International Organizations;
The Director of the Research Department in the African Development Bank, Dr. Temitope Oshikoya;
Senior Government Officials;
Captains of Industry;
Members of the Media;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and privilege for me to welcome you on this historic occasion to disseminate the Report on the African Economic Outlook for 2006/07 in Namibia. On behalf of the SACU Secretariat, I would like to thank you most sincerely for your attendance. In particular, I would like to thank the Honourable Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, for agreeing to grace this occasion by giving a key note address. I would also like to most sincerely welcome and thank the African Development Bank for agreeing at short notice to travel to Windhoek to make this very important presentation.

Distinguished guests, as you are aware, in recent years Africa´s economic development has become a topical issue.

Indeed, as you know the recent G8 Summit held in Germany also devoted some attention to this topic.

This breakfast Seminar provides an important opportunity to gain a meaningful understanding on how our economies are performing. The African Economic Outlook publication can help us to formulate proactive policies and strategies to strengthen our economies and assist us in designing regional policies aimed at deepening integration within Southern Africa. As we pursue deeper integration, it is essential that we are well informed about our national and regional economic growth prospects so as to help in facilitating economic development within the continent.

The SACU Secretariat is happy to collaborate with the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Namibia to facilitate the dissemination of the Report on the African Economic Outlook in Namibia. It is our hope that this event marks the beginning of a long term relationship and collaboration between the African Development Bank and the SACU Secretariat.

This event is also important for the Secretariat as it affords an opportunity to highlight ongoing developments in SACU.

As you are aware, an agreement establishing the Southern African Customs Union between the Union of South Africa and the three High Commission territories of Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland was signed on 1 July 1910.

This makes SACU the oldest functional Customs union in the world.

The 1910 Customs Union Agreement was renegotiated in 1969. The main focus of the renegotiation was on the Revenue Sharing Formula. By the mid 1990´s, there were major developments in international trade with the conclusion of the Uruguay Round negotiations, the signing of the Marakesh Agreements and the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. At the regional level, there were political developments leading to the independence of Namibia and a democratic dispensation in South Africa. This provided SACU Member States with an opportunity to revisit the purpose and the scope of the 1969 Agreement. The renegotiations which started in 1994 resulted in the signing of the SACU Agreement which came into force on 15 July 2004.

The 2002 Agreement represents a significant development in democratic decision making and joint exercise of responsibility over decisions affecting tariff setting, management of the Common Revenue Pool and the overall direction of SACU. The Agreement also provides for the establishment of new institutions such as the independent SACU Secretariat, a Tariff Board, and ad hoc Tribunal.

It also focuses on Regional Integration, development of common policy, the facilitation of SACU´s integration into the global economy through trade. All these do have the central objective of improving the economic development of the SACU Member States.

The Agreement also provides for a common external tariff as well as a common excise policy. All customs and excise duties collected in the common customs are paid into a common pool and the revenue is shared by all members according to a revenue-sharing formula described in the 2002 Agreement.

I am happy to inform you that the Secretariat is now fully operational, having been established on 15 July 2004 in Windhoek, Namibia. The Secretariat oversees the day to day functioning of the Customs Union. It also coordinates and monitors the implementation of the SACU Work Programme.

SACU´s current agenda revolves around regional integration, institutional development, trade facilitation, trade negotiations and policy development. In the area of regional integration, as you are aware, all SACU Member States are also Member States of SADC. Therefore the SACU Member States have also been participating in the current initiatives to deepen regional economic integration. In this regard, SACU is currently undertaking analytical studies to assess the impact of these developments on its Member States.

Concerning the trade agenda, a number of trade agreements have been concluded with third parties in an effort to integrate SACU into the global economy. Already SACU has concluded negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as well as MERCOSUR. It is expected that these negotiations will result in better market access for SACU products and increased investment flows into the SACU region.

In the area of trade facilitation, a programme which entails the establishment of one-stop borders, electronic data interchange, joint border controls and the introduction of a single customs document is being pursued. A single administrative customs document was introduced in the whole of SACU in October 2006.

Director of Ceremonies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me that there are a lot to be done in terms of developing our economies so that we can achieve with a collective vision economic stability and prosperity for the Southern African region.

In conclusion, experience has taught us that we need to discuss more on the problems that confronts us and therefore its timely that we reflect today on the publication of the African Economic Outlook together as stakeholders and partners in development to get a sense of where our economies are and where we would like to be for the foreseeable future. I am delighted therefore to state that we consider this event to be an annual initiative in order to bring critical yet timely information on the growth of the African economies to the Namibian economic community.

With those few remarks, I would like to welcome you once more to this event and wish you fruitful deliberations.

I thank you.