The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) continues to seek ways to position itself as a key player in sectors and sub-sectors of agro-processing, leather and leather products, textiles and clothing, cosmetics and essential oils as well as pharmaceutical oils.
This emerged from a first-ever SACU regional two-day hybrid investment roundtable event that was themed “Positioning SACU as an Industrial Investment, Manufacturing and Innovation Hub for the African Continent and Beyond” that took place in Gaborone recently.
The SACU secretariat explained that they are aggressively exploring the holes that may have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of SACU, Paulina Elago, emphasised that the region needs to stimulate internal inclusive trade to ensure that the proceeds remain in the region to create jobs lost in the past two years.
She said that although there were losses across the region, SACU has adopted industrialisation as an overarching objective to support its development aspirations and deepen regional integration. The SACU secretariat continues to negotiate trade mechanisms as a third party, hence there are still constraints in finalisations.
Addressing the roundtable, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said SACU member states have adopted regional integration as a means of advancing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). He said government revenue from taxes have been heavily affected due to trade disruptions over past years during which SACU reported a 6.3 percent contraction compared to a positive growth of 0.3 percent previously.
President Masisi noted that the SACU region has registered a deficit of R13.9 billion, adding that textiles and clothing and oils and pharmaceuticals have “a very high chance” of success, considering their past performance. The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, said that there is still a need for diversification and competitiveness in SACU member states. Kgafela stated SACU is still in processes rectifying rules of origin.