01 March 2024

SACU Ministers Of Trade Meeting - Opening Remarks By The Chairperson Of The SACU Ministers Responsible For Trade, Honourable Absolom Dlamini, Minister Of Economic Planning, Swaziland

29 March 2007

Pelican Bay Hotel, Walvisbay, Namibia.

Honourable Ministers,
Executive Secretary,
Senior Officials,

1. It is a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome you to this meeting of the SACU Ministers responsible for Trade here in Walvisbay. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Namibia for their warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.

2. Since our last meeting in August 2005, a number of important developments took place, which pose significant challenges to SACU as a Customs Union. These include our global and regional negotiating agenda, specifically the resumption of the Doha Development Round, our efforts to renew our relationship with one of our most important trading partners, the European Union, as well efforts to achieve greater regional integration, both within SACU and SADC. These require a renewed effort on our part to ensure that we are speaking with one voice, ensuring a harmonised approach to our global and regional trade agenda.

3. In order to achieve our aim of integrating SACU into the global economy and ensure its competitiveness on the global stage, we have to ensure that our regional institutions are working properly and receive the necessary support from us as Member States. It is therefore timely that at this meeting we are looking at the progress made in establishing the Common Negotiating Mechanism, the SACU Tariff Board and National Bodies. These are important instruments that will ensure that SACUís position in the global economy is greatly enhanced, while also providing the necessary support to our officials to disband with their functions in an effective and efficient manner. Dear Colleagues, I believe that with establishing these institutions we have an excellent opportunity to achieve the aim of greater regional integration, while also providing us with the necessary negotiating muscle to put forward our views on economic development and integration to our trading partners.

4. Notwithstanding our efforts to integrate ourselves into the global economy, we should not forget the specific development needs, recognizing that some of us might have greater needs in this regard than others. We have to make sure that our local industries are supported by creating appropriate enabling environments within which they are able to flourish. I am therefore heartened to see that today we will be discussing a specific sector that is very important to all our economies. I am, off course, speaking of the textiles and clothing sector. This sector has had to withstand many challenges and is facing the full onslaught of globalisation. We need to make sure that we develop a strategy that enables us to withstand these challenges. Developing a long-term strategy should therefore be seen as a priority and I hope we can give our full attention to this matter during this meeting.

5. The Executive Secretary of SACU assisted us by preparing an agenda which focuses on some of these contemporary issues; supplemented by some background material. This is quite useful and will also enable us to follow up with national responses where required.

6. In closing, I would like to thank the Executive Secretary and her team for the excellent preparations that went into organising this meeting. The information provided will enable us to deal with these matters in an efficient and professional manner.

7. Dear Colleagues, all that remains for me is to once again welcome you to this meeting and wish you fruitful discussion for this afternoon. I trust that our deliberations will provide the necessary guidance and support to our Senior Officials to take these important matters forward.

8. I herewith declare this meeting open.

Thank you