President Cyril Ramaphosa has embarked on a working visit to the Kingdom of Eswatini to participate in the 8th Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Heads of State and Government Summit. The event, held at the Mandvulo Royal Palace, aims to discuss and enhance regional cooperation in areas such as industrialization, trade facilitation, and economic complexity. The President’s attendance at the invitation of His Majesty King Mswati III underscores the importance of SACU in fostering economic development and integration in the Southern African region.
The theme of this year’s SACU Summit is “SACU Industrialization Opportunities through Improving Economic Complexity.” President Ramaphosa will deliver a statement at the opening ceremony, highlighting the significance of industrialization and the potential it holds for the member countries.
SACU, established in 1910, proudly boasts the distinction of being the oldest Customs Union globally. Comprising five member states—South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and Botswana—SACU plays a crucial role in promoting regional trade, cooperation, and economic integration among its members.
The SACU Strategic Plan 2022-2027, which is currently under review during this summit, serves as a guiding framework for the organization’s future endeavors. The plan focuses on six key pillars that include:
Industrialization: SACU aims to promote and advance industrial development within member states, recognizing the potential for economic growth and job creation.
Export and Investment Promotion: Efforts will be made to facilitate exports and attract investments to member countries, fostering economic diversification and sustainable development.
Trade Facilitation and Logistics: Improving trade facilitation measures and logistics infrastructure will enhance intra-SACU and international trade, reducing barriers and costs.
Implementation and Leveraging of The AFCFTA Opportunities: SACU seeks to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), promoting regional integration and economic cooperation.
Trade Relations/Unified Engagement with Third Parties: The organization will foster unified engagement with external trade partners, promoting harmonized trade policies and agreements.
Finance and Resource Mobilization and Effectiveness of SACU Institutions: Ensuring adequate financial resources and enhancing the effectiveness of SACU’s institutions will be crucial for the organization’s success in implementing its strategic objectives.
Accompanying President Ramaphosa on this important visit are key government officials, including Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana, and the South African Revenue Service Commissioner Edward Kieswetter. Their presence underscores the commitment of the South African government to furthering regional cooperation and economic development.
The SACU Summit provides an invaluable platform for member countries to collaborate on shared economic challenges and explore opportunities for growth and development. By prioritizing industrialization and improving economic complexity, SACU aims to strengthen its position as a driver of economic integration in Southern Africa.
As President Ramaphosa takes the stage at the opening ceremony, his address will shed light on the importance of SACU’s strategic goals and the role of regional cooperation in fostering economic prosperity for member states.