MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili is expected in Pretoria, South Africa, today to attend a two-day meeting of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) heads of state and government.
The meeting has been called to discuss the future of the customs union, the oldest in the world, in light of recent global and integration developments.
In a press statement released last week, Sacu said heads of state are expected to explore solutions for the sustainability of the customs union.
They will also look at the challenges facing the union and seek to explore policies that enhance the union’s potential.
“It is expected that heads of state and government will use this opportunity to engage on these challenges and provide strategic direction that will enhance Sacu’s potential as an effective instrument for integration amongst member states and within the southern African region,” the statement said.
Sacu is made up of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.
The union has a combined population of over 55 million people and a combined gross domestic product of over R2 200 billion.
Sacu says it has managed to endure for over 100 years due to its “ability to adapt to the rapidly changing political and economic environment”.
“During that period, the organisation has seen many achievements in the form of laying a meaningful legal foundation, establishing common institutions, facilitating intra-Sacu trade and promoting trade with the rest of the world.”
Sacu said it has in recent years faced new challenges which have necessitated the renewal of the 2002 Sacu Agreement.
It wants the agreement to include areas such as trade in services, finance and investment, government procurement, environment and market and monetary integrations.
The summit follows an agreement by the Sacu council of ministers that called on heads of state and governments to be more involved in dealing with the challenges facing the union.
The council of ministers made the call at Sacu’s centenary celebrations held in Windhoek, Namibia, last April.
The ministers said heads of state and government should get more involved in the strategic direction of the 100-year customs union.
The union was last rocked by some bitter dispute last July after three countries — Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho — signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
Two countries — Namibia and South Africa — refused to sign the agreement citing legalities of the interim EPA.
The two countries called for a change in some of the provisions of the interim EPA.
These challenges, among other things, have necessitated the reviewing of the 2002 agreement.