109 years old, since 1910.
19 August 2019

13th SACU Council Of Ministers Meeting Opening Remarks By The Chairperson Of Council, Hon. Baledzi Gaolathe, Minister Of Finance And Development Planning for Botswana

7 December 2007

Windhoek, Namibia

Honourable Ministers
Madam Executive Secretary,
Commission Members
Senior Officials

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to the 13th Meeting of the SACU Council of Ministers here in Windhoek. 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.

This Council meeting is taking place at a crucial time in the history of SACU given the major strategic challenges facing the organisation and the Southern African region as a whole. These challenges do have implications for the regional integration process and on the achievement of the aims and objectives of the 2002 SACU Agreement.

Colleagues

The recent joint meeting of the SADC Ministers of Trade and Finance, held in November 2007, confirmed the road map for the launch of the Free Trade Area (FTA) in August 2008 and Customs Union in 2010. All SACU Member States are also in SADC and subscribe to its integration agenda. Whilst the integration agenda presents challenges to the basic aims of SACU, we need to stay focused and objective in interpreting it. As much as possible, we need to identify those elements of the Agenda that will promote the aims of SACU and capitalise on them.

Therefore, I am confident that our ongoing efforts at consolidating and positioning SACU in relation to the integration developments at the regional level can provide mutually beneficial solutions to the SACU Member States and the larger Southern African region. Such efforts will require a harmonised approach on policies and strategies concerning the larger regional integration agenda of the region.

Honorable Ministers

As you are aware, one of the important objectives for SACU is to enhance integration into the global economy through trade. As we pursue this objective, it has become obvious that the international agenda is becoming diverse with important issues such as trade in services, aid and development taking a more prominent role. The widening scope of trade negotiations compels us to adopt proactive and well informed strategies on issues that are not presently covered by our Agreement. This has implications on the outcome of our trade negotiations with third parties.

Going forward, we will have to spend more time developing common policies and harmonising our interests. There will be need for SACU to continue harmonising existing trade relations with third parties and strive to uphold the principles and obligations of the SACU Agreement. It is my hope that negotiations with third parties will bring about increased economic growth and development for our region.

Honorable Ministers

Our meeting takes place on the eve of the 2nd EU-Africa Heads of State and Government Summit which is scheduled to start tomorrow in Lisbon, Portugal. As you are aware, the forthcoming Summit is expected to discuss and adopt a Joint EU-Africa Strategy with an emphasis on political issues, sustainable economic growth, development, regional integration and trade. These discussions must be seen against the background of the African Unionís efforts to promote continental economic integration. The EU - AU Summit will hopefully produce firm commitments from Europe to assist Africa to achieve her economic integration objectives. As Europe is SACUís largest trading partner, it will be important for SACU to monitor the outcome of this meeting closely.

In conclusion, let me remind you of the strategic challenges and work activities that will confront us in 2008. These centers around the effective implementation of the 2002 SACU Agreement on areas of institutional development, policy harmonization and trade facilitation. However, we should at the same time be mindful that the evolving agenda of SACU and the emerging regional challenges requires the full establishment of the SACU institutions that should respond proactively to the successful implementation of the 2002 SACU Agreement.

With these few remarks, let me wish you fruitful deliberations, and thank you all for your attention.

I thank you