Concluding Remarks by President Jacob Zuma at SACU Summit 25 March 2011
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies High Commissioners and Ambassadors,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
May I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Heads of State and Government for availing themselves to attend this very important meeting.
We convened to review the work programme undertaken by the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) since our last meeting in Pretoria.
Indeed, your contributions to our deliberations of today have been most valuable and constructive, and have highlighted the progress made to date, as well as the areas requiring further work by our Ministers and Officials.
Undoubtedly, the decisions we have taken today are vital to advancing the economic integration agenda in regional context.
We have also gone a step ahead at a continental level, as we prepare for an ambitious trade development agenda under the auspices of the SADC, COMESA and East African Community Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations.
These will be launched at the occasion of the Second Summit later this year.
I am confident that our decisions will contribute to the progress already made in shaping a SACU that is developmental in approach and responsive to the needs and aspirations of all its citizens.
I am confident that the collective decisions arrived at today will advance the consolidation of SACU through common policies and strategies.
They will help us take forward the pursuit of deeper regional integration through common policy development and common institutions; and promote the strengthening of SACU's institutional capacity.
Indeed, we are equally confident that our decisions will further advance the SACU Vision agreed to in Namibia last year during the SACU Centenary celebrations, namely to build "an economic community with equitable and sustainable development dedicated to the welfare of its people for a common future”.
We are acutely conscious of the challenges confronting SACU in making this Vision a reality.
This will require the forging of common policies, strategies and programmes, responsive to an increasingly complex and dynamic global political and economic environment.
SACU must position itself as an organisation capable of advancing the promotion of cross-border trade and development, and the establishment of new partnerships with regional, continental and global trade entities that will contribute to our development agenda priorities.
It must also design and implement programmes that will ensure sustainable development in all our member countries.
We believe therefore that these high-level deliberations have been particularly valuable.
We are aware that the complex nature of this work creates its own set of challenges. However, we must forge ahead and develop the necessary strategies to promote win-win solutions.
Let me again thank my brothers the Heads of States and Government for their invaluable contributions to this ongoing programme of work.
We wish to continue on and indeed strengthen the collective approach we have adopted in the SACU context, as a core principle that will underpin all future deliberations in the SACU fold.
You have demonstrated practically that by working together in common purpose and unity of vision, we can do more as neighbours, as a region and as an integral part of the broader African continent.
I thank you.