01 March 2024

Welcome remarks by Ms. Alma Andrade, at the Eurasian Economic Commission Windhoek, Namibia

24 November, 2014

Director of Ceremonies
Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Russian Federation Mr Elexey Saltykov
Eurasian Economic Commission Representatives
Colleagues - SACU Secretariat Staff
Good Morning

It is a great honour for me to welcome you all to this historic occasion, which marks the start of a collaboration relationship between the Eurasian Economic Commission and SACU. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the EEC representatives to Namibia and to the SACU Secretariat in particular. I do hope you have had a wonderful trip to Namibia and that you will find the arrangements made for your visit meet with your expectations.

May I also take this opportunity to extend apologies for the Executive Secretary, Ms. Paulina Elago, who would have liked to be here today. Unfortunately, due to other pressing commitments she is unable to attend.

Today`s meeting marks an important milestone in the collaboration between the SACU Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission. As one of the oldest Customs Unions in the world, it always gives us pleasure to host organisations that are engaged in the same business as us and also to share experiences and learn from each other. Our evolution has been an eventful one and we always stand ready to share those experiences and in the process learn what we could have done better or can still do better.

At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to update you about developments in SACU.

As you may be aware, on 1 July 1910 an agreement establishing SACU as a Customs Union between the then Union of South Africa and the territories of Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland was signed by Lord Gladstone, in his capacity as Governor-General of the Union of South Africa and as High Commissioner of the other three territories. This agreement provided for a duty free flow of goods between members and a basic Common External tariff of 15% ad valorem. The revenue generated was administered by South Africa and distributed among the member countries on the basis of fixed percentage shares.

A new SACU Agreement was concluded in December 1969 to provide for a CU between South Africa and the newly independent BLS. In the negotiations that led to this agreement, BLS were particularly concerned that they were not getting a fair share of the customs union revenue. They were persuaded to hold these views by the growth of their economies and consequently in their imports while they continued to receive a fixed percentage share in revenue. The new Agreement came up with a revenue sharing formula which provided compensation to BLS for the disadvantages of being part of a common customs area with a larger and more developed economy and for the fiscal discretion that they sacrificed. This Agreement continued to have a number of problems.

I am happy to say that in October 2002, after extensive negotiations, the current Agreement was signed. An important difference between this Agreement and the previous Agreements is that it provides for joint exercise of responsibility over decisions affecting tariff setting, Common Revenue Pool and the overall direction of SACU.

The 2002 Agreement provides for the establishment of new SACU institutions to reflect the joint decision making process. These include an independent SACU Secretariat, a Tariff Board, an ad hoc Tribunal and the National Bodies. The Secretariat is now operational, having been established on 15 July 2004. Efforts are underway to establish the outstanding institutions.

In an effort to ensure full implementation of our Agreement and establish a fully functional CU, a number of programmes have been implemented. You will hear more about these from the presentations to be made by my colleagues.

Without much ado, I would like to take this opportunity to again welcome the delegation from the Eurasian Economic Commission, and also thank the Deputy Ambassador for his support and for gracing this occasion with his presence in our new building. We look forward to a healthy exchange of views during this meeting which will hopefully lead to a closer relationship between our two institutions.

I thank you.