09 Mar 2018 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 09 MAR (NAMPA) - The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is implementing a programme to address impediments faced by traders.
The programme will also harmonise policies and procedures for improved border crossing and reduce behind-the-border measures, SACU Executive Secretary Paulina Elago said during her presentation on the operations and programmes of SACU at the unions one-day road show for economics students at the University of Namibia on Friday.
She said the SACU Trade Facilitation Programme (STFP) is also aimed at creating a trading environment that is predictable for businesses, underpinned by less cumbersome formalities and procedures at ports of entry and exit.
The programme is supported by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) through the SACU-WCO Connect Project.
The SACU-WCO Connect programme is aimed at developing and implementing a robust regional customs modernisation programme to enhance border efficiencies and to also create a seamless and predictable trading environment.
The two institutions, Elago said, signed a cooperation framework agreement this week at the WCO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
The signing of the agreement signals the commitment by the WCO and SACU to continue working together to strengthen their relationship and partnership in the area of trade facilitation in order to improve the trading environment in SACU.
She further said SACU revenue and customs authorities are also presently implementing some of the provisions of the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was signed in 2013.
It is estimated that the implementation of the agreement will further reduce trade transaction costs, she said.
Elago said besides trade negotiations and facilitating cross border trade, SACU is currently focusing on the implementation of the work programme for the ministerial task teams on trade and industry and on finance.
The task teams were established in 2016 to facilitate and fast track the implementation of the work programme, which focuses on priorities such as the review and development of suitable architecture for tariff-setting, rebates, duty drawbacks and trade remedies.
It also focuses on identifying financing options for regional projects and the establishment of a stabilisation fund and exploring feasibility of a financing mechanism for regional industrialisation, amongst other priorities.
The implementation of these activities is ongoing and are expected to be completed by early 2019.
This is the fourth similar road show as those held in other SACU Member States, namely, Swaziland in March 2016, Botswana in November 2016 and Lesotho in March 2017.
As the oldest customs union, SACU traces its origins to 1910 and serves as an engine for regional integration and development, industrial and economic diversification, the expansion of intra-regional trade and investment and global competitiveness, as well as to serve as a building bloc of an ever closer community among the peoples of Southern Africa.