Zuma demands hands-on approach to economic integration

Friday, March 25, 2011
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Pretoria - While traditional international partners remain important for Africa's economic development, Southern African countries need to engage more "proactively" with emerging economies of the south, says President Jacob Zuma.

"At the same time we need to recognise the enormous opportunities that can arise from widening integration in Africa and the south," he said at the opening of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) summit underway in Pretoria.

Zuma opened the gathering, attended by Heads of State from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, by reminding delegates about the five priority points discussed at the last summit held in Pretoria last year, which include the contentious issue of the review of revenue-sharing formula. 

A preliminary report is to be tabled at the summit, with a final decision expected to be considered by the Council of Ministers next month. 

The council agreed last year to review the revenue sharing arrangement and to evaluate issues relating to the operations of the current formula, and to develop options towards an equitable revenue sharing agreement. 

On Friday, Zuma said this was not only important to ensure equity but was also crucial for SACU to develop a common regional industrialisation approach that will encourage regional economic development. 

"We want a formula that ensures a sustainable revenue sharing mechanism, that promotes fair and equitable development for all SACU members," he said. 

The summit is also expected to receive feedback on the work of a committee that was tasked to investigate a regional trade facilitation programme which will improve border efficiency. 

Last year, ministers were also tasked with developing a plan towards the establishment of institutions such as a regional Tariff Board and a Tribunal. Zuma said the institutions were important for the union to reach "efficiency and delivery" on its objectives. 

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