112 years old, since 1910.
18 April 2024

Development of SACU institutions

The SACU Agreement of 2002 establishes several institutions of SACU to implement the Agreement. To date, of the institutions fully established under Article 7 of the Agreement only the Council of Ministers, the Customs Union Commission, the Secretariat and the Technical Liaison Committees have been operational since 2004. Work is on-going to institutionalise the Summit of Heads of State and Government as well as the operationalization of the Tribunal and the Tariff Board.

The Amendments to the SACU Agreement, 2002 to institutionalise the SACU Summit were adopted by a decision of the Council of Ministers on the 10th April 2013. The Amendments were signed by the Heads of State and Government of the SACU Member States on the 12th April 2013, in Gaborone, Botswana.

In accordance with Article 4 of the Amendments the Summit shall: provide political and strategic direction to SACU; receive reports on the work of the Council; meet once a year, and may hold extraordinary meetings at the request of any Member State. The Amendments will enter into force thirty (30) days following ratification by all Member States. It is envisaged that the Rules of Procedure of the Summit will be tabled for adoption at the next Meeting of the Heads of States and Government.

Article 7 of the SACU Agreement establishes a Tariff Board as one of the institutions of SACU. In terms of Article 11 the Tariff Board will be an independent institution made up of full-time or part-time members or both. The SACU Tariff Board will be responsible for making recommendations to the SACU Council of Ministers on the level of customs tariffs. In making its recommendations the Tariff Board will review the customs tariff investigations initiated by Member States' National Bodies.

Progress has been made in establishment of the Tariff Board and the National Bodies. An expert assessment has been undertaken to examine the current architecture and modus operandi for establishing and operationalising Member State's National Bodies and the SACU Tariff Board. The assessment should take into account the progress already made and the existing legal framework in the Member States.

Article 7 of the SACU Agreement, 2002 establishes an ad hoc Tribunal as one of the institutions of SACU. In terms of Article 13, the Tribunal will settle disputes on the interpretation or application of the SACU Agreement. Work on the development of the Annex to operationalize the SACU Tribunal continued. In particular the discussions focused on the determination of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal in the context of the SACU Agreement. It is envisaged that once the issue of jurisdiction has been concluded the Annex on the SACU Tribunal will be finalised and presented for consideration by the Council.

In accordance with Article 12 of the SACU Agreement, 2002 the Technical Liaison Committees (TLCs) are mandated to assist and advise the Commission in its work. Following the decision to restructure the operations of the TLCs in order to streamline their operations, a review of the Terms of Reference of the TLCs was commissioned. This entailed consideration of proposals on merging and rationalising the functions of some of the TLCs with a view to streamlining the SACU institutional structure, as well as clarifying reporting lines between the TLCs and Task Teams established by the Council.

A draft Annex establishing a Common Negotiating Mechanism (CNM) has been drafted and awaits adoption. However, SACU has managed to adopt a unified approach towards negotiations with third parties. A renewed effort will be made to finalize the work on the CNM. In the meantime SACU Member States have continued with internal consultations and making inputs into the draft annex. Once the national consultations are complete, the amended draft Annex will be presented through Commission to the Council for consideration.