SADC pushes ahead with customs union plans

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is pushing ahead with plans to form a customs union, based on the current SADC Free Trade Area.

The final communiqué from the SADC heads of state summit, which ended in Maputo on Saturday night, said the summit had received a report from the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration “outlining key elements for the Customs Union, in particular the parameters, benchmarks and a model Customs Union for SADC, including the sequencing of activities”.

The summit also claimed that progress has been made towards establishing a tripartite free trade area between SADC, the East African Community (EAC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), “especially preparatory work to facilitate negotiations under the chairpersonship of SADC”.

The summit adopted a “Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan”, to be implemented over 15 years (2013 to 2027). This plan, the communiqué said, “will serve as a key strategic framework to guide the implementation of efficient, seamless and cost-effective trans-boundary infrastructure networks in an integrated and coordinated manner in all six sectors namely: energy, transport, tourism, information and communications technologies and posts, meteorology and water”.

The heads of state instructed SADC Finance Ministers “to expeditiously address all outstanding issues” in order to ensure that a SADC Regional Development Fund “becomes operational as soon as possible”.

The communiqué described this fund as “a financial mechanism intended to mobilise resources from member states, private sector and development partners to finance programmes and projects for regional development and deeper integration”.

Agreement had been reached on key features “including the windows of the Fund, with the infrastructure and industrial development windows as top priorities, and a subscribed capital of 1.2 billion US dollars to be raised as seed capital”.

The summit also warned of a grain deficit in the SADC region of 5.5 million tonnes, which it blamed largely on poor rains this year. This would result in an increase in the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance, and the summit “urged member states to undertake appropriate measures to provide sustainable food security”.

In the short term, SADC members were encouraged “to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance” to those of their citizens in need.

Post published in: Africa News

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