109 years old, since 1910.
12 December 2019

12th SACU Commission Meeting - Opening Remarks By The Chairperson Of Commission, Mrs. B.K. Molosiwa, Permanent Secretary Ministry Of Trade And Industry, Botswana

28 September 2007, Maseru, Lesotho Botswana

Colleagues
Madam Executive Secretary
Ladies and Gentleman,

May I start off by welcoming you all to this 12th meeting of the SACU Commission. It is indeed a great pleasure for me to Chair the first meeting of the Commission since Botswana took over the Chairmanship of SACU in July 2007. I feel humbled to be the one to Chair this very important meeting. As a new comer in this, I hope to receive the same cooperation as my predecessor. May I also take this opportunity, at the onset, to thank the Government of Lesotho for the pleasant reception extended to all of us since our arrival and the excellent hospitality that we have enjoyed.

Colleagues
This meeting takes place immediately after the 27th SADC Heads of State Summit, which took place in Lusaka, Zambia on 16-17 August 2007. As you are aware, the Summit received the draft report of the SADC Study on an Appropriate Model for a Customs Union. In the context of deepening the integration of the sub-region, this discussion marked an important milestone. The SADC Study makes some interesting recommendations that have important implications for SACU. It is therefore important that we all work together towards making SACU an institution that can attract other countries in the region to join. Being an oldest customs union, SACU is expected to play a major role in the SADC regional integration agenda. SACU must be seen to benefit all members with respect to ensuring fair competition, increased investment opportunities, economic development, diversification, industrialization and competitiveness of member states.

Attainment of these objectives will entail development of common policies and strategies to ensure equitable and balanced development among member states. Key among these strategies is industrialization. As tariff revenues dwindle under the WTO rules, industrialization is our only hope of sustainable economic growth, and participation in the global economy.

The recent SADC Summit also reaffirmed commitment to the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area in August 2008, to which we are full members. It is indeed heartening to note that SACU Member States are on track in the implementation of their tariff phase down schedules and will be ready to enter the FTA in August 2008. Achievement of the FTA should necessarily enhance market access for SACU Member States in the non-SACU SADC market. One also hopes that our counterparts in the SADC market will also be ready to enter the FTA on the designated date.

Colleagues,

Given that this is our first meeting as Chair of Commission, it is only fair to outline what the Government of Botswana expects to achieve during the year. We will continue to support the programme started by our predecessor, which is indeed the main focus of the SACU Performance Matrix. It is our wish that SACU moves with haste to establish all the outstanding institutions and develop the Common Policies outlined in Part Eight of the SACU Agreement. These institutions such as the National Bodies, the Tariff Board and the SACU Tribunal, are necessary for the operation of a real customs union.

During the year, it will also be very important to complete the SACU Strategy, which should provide us a plan for implementing the key objectives of the Agreement. As you may be aware, during our meeting in July 2007, we underscored the need to complete the studies on regional integration, which should provide an input to the SACU Strategy. During our term therefore, we will support the finalization of the studies on regional integration and the process of finalizing the SACU Strategy.

Turning now to the Agenda for this meeting, I am happy that we have important issues to deal with, both from the trade and finance perspectives. On the trade side, we will discuss progress on the development of an Annex on the Common Negotiating Mechanism. I do not need to remind you about the urgency and importance of this Annex. This Annex will concretely outline our modus operandi in the negotiations with third parties. During this meeting, we will also receive a status report on negotiations with third parties. This will allow us an opportunity to identify areas where we are lagging in terms of the development of common positions.

The finance agenda includes consideration of the final report of the study on the management of the Common Revenue Pool. This item has been with us for a long time. We have undertaken numerous studies to try and clarify the different options that are available to us. I do hope that this time we shall make progress and be able to select a management option that we can live with. Meanwhile, we welcome the establishment of the SACU Finance Technical Liaison Committee, which held its first meeting on 23rd August 2007 in Gaborone, Botswana. The Committee is expected to discuss and advise on, among others, revenue management and distribution in order to ensure equity and fairness. We need to strive to achieve a win-win solution in all our deliberations.

With these few words, I would like to wish us fruitful deliberations.

I thank you.