Windhoek - The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support implementation of the ongoing SACU Customs Modernisation Programme.
SACU, as a regional customs union body, has been on the drive to modernise its operations in order to smoothen its process, improve cross border chain, which will subsequently improve revenue collection.
The SACU Regional Customs Modernisation Programme seeks to strengthen collaboration and to enhance administrative efficiencies among Customs Administrations in the SACU member states of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa.
An initial funding support amounting to £158,690.09 has been committed by the United Kingdom (UK) for the period from October 2019 to 31 March 2020.
The UK has further committed to provide continued support towards the implementation of the SACU Customs Modernisation Programme as well as trade related support. The funding support for the subsequent year will be based on the activities to be agreed by both parties.
SACU executive secretary, Paulina Elago, said the key objective of the programme is to enhance efficiency in order to facilitate cross border movement of goods while securing borders to curb the scourge of illicit trade, as well as to ensure seamless movement of legitimate trade.
“The programme also aims to promote traders’ compliance with the national laws and policies,” she said.
Further information shows that the programme is additionally designed to enhance efficiency in the core strategic areas of customs administration, notably information technology systems, strategies, processes and procedures.
“This entails the development and implementation of the regional Customs Tools and Frameworks to strengthen cooperation and collaboration on IT Connectivity; Risk Management and Enforcement; Preferred Trader Programme; and Customs Legislative Framework,” said Elago.
Director for Economic Diplomacy at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lewis Neal, said the support from the UK will assist SACU member states to fully implement the critical regional tools and frameworks.
The ultimate objective is to enhance efficiencies related to cross border movement of goods.
It is envisaged that upon full implementation of the SACU Customs Modernisation Programme, the SACU region will benefit from, among others, reduced costs, predictability and transparency, improved co-operation and collaboration with various stakeholders, increased competitiveness and sustainable customs reform and modernisation efforts in the region.
For the private sector, the benefits that will accrue in the long term include reduction in the transaction costs associated with border crossings, and enhanced competitiveness of business which encourages new investments.
This week’s signing of the MoU was witnessed by the High Commissioner of Botswana and the representatives of the High Commissioners of Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa.