Private sector plays a vital role in implementation of AfCFTA- SACU Secretariat
With an enormous market presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is incumbent upon the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) private sector to seize and capitalise on the opportunities to grow their business through regional value chains and cross-border trade, SACU Executive Chair, Paulina Elago said.
Elago said this when SACU Member States, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa came together for the first time since launch of the AfCFTA on 1 January 2021, to discuss issues related to the implementation of the trade bloc.
During the virtual meeting attended by representatives from member states, the private sector and the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, Elago said without the participation of the business sector, efforts made towards increasing cross-border trade will be meaningless.
She said the SACU Council of Ministers has agreed to prioritise industrialisation through the development of Regional Value Chains, Export and Investment promotion.
“To that end, the region is currently undertaking technical work to outline a systematic approach and practical steps to scale up the region’s industrial base and to strategically positioning itself to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA,” Elago said.
She highlighted the importance of the Trade Facilitation component, expaling that SACU has, through its Customs Modernisation Programme, laid the groundwork that will enhance efficiency in Customs operations.
SACU Member States Customs IT Management Systems are now linked to automatically exchange information. A full presentation on the SACU Customs Modernisation Programme will be given at a later stage.
In addition, SACU Member States are participating in the in online Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) mechanism for speedy reporting and resolution of NTBs which the AfCFTA has been put in place.
“I therefore call on the private sector, SMEs, youth, and women to seize the opportunity and leverage on the AfCFTA market opportunities to increase trade, attract investment and create employment in the SACU region,” Elago said.