Progress made in establishing a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Customs Union, and the objective reaffirmed at the SADC summit in August 2010.
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO: 1653 (NW1985E)
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 18-2012 OF 15 JUNE 2012
Mr I O Davidson (DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
- Whether any progress has been made in establishing a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Customs Union, which objective was reaffirmed at the SADC summit in August 2010; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
The SADC Customs Union was not realised in 2010 as planned. The main challenge with the establishment of a Customs Union in SADC is the overlapping membership. Almost all SADC Member States with the exception of Angola and Mozambique belong to Customs Unions. The implications for the Customs Union are that SADC Member States will then have to choose which Customs Union they want to belong to and may mean the break-up of SADC in its current form. Technically, a Member State cannot belong to more than one Customs Union because of the Common External Tariff (CET).
In view of these challenges, the SADC Summit, during its August 2010 Meeting reaffirmed its commitment to establish a SADC Customs Union and recognised the need to establish synergies between the processes to consolidate the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA); the establishment of the Customs Union, and the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite FTA. The afore-stated Summit endorsed the decision of the Ministerial Task Force to appoint a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on the SADC Customs Union whose mandate was to consolidate and refine previous technical work undertaken in order to reach agreement and common understanding on key elements on the parameters, benchmarks, time-lines, a model customs union and its implementation modalities.
Additionally, it can be stated that the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration considered the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) report on the framework for a SADC Customs Union at the 25 November 2011 deliberations that took place in Luanda, Angola.
The report of the MTF is to be considered by the SADC Summit in August 2012 and this will be a meeting that will consider the approach to regional integration in SADC. The key issue for consideration is to ensure that SADC adopts and implements a developmental approach to integration to ensure that the region is able to address the critical constraints to development, which are fundamentally the supply-side constraints.