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SADC Pushes Progress On FTA, Customs Union

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

19 August 2010

The 30th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was held recently in Namibia, which reaffirmed the community's commitment to the consolidation of the regional free trade agreement (FTA), and then to the establishment of a Customs Union.

The FTA is seen the initial step in the region’s economic integration, before the setting up of a Customs Union, which was originally targeted for this year, followed by a Common Market by 2015 and a Monetary Union by 2016. To date, only 11 out of the 15 SADC member states have signed the protocol for the FTA’s entry into force.

The Heads of State also reaffirmed their commitment to establish the SADC Customs Union, and endorsed a decision of the ministerial task force to appoint a high level expert group. The communiqué from the summit said that “the group’s mandate will be to reach agreement on the parameters, benchmarks, timelines, a model customs union and its implementation.” A report is to be submitted before December 2011.

Part of the difficulty in agreeing on the technical details of a SADC Customs Union is that SADC’s membership overlaps with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and in the East African Community (EAC). In that regard, the Summit “noted the preparations towards establishing the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite FTA."

TAGS: South Africa | tax | free trade agreement (FTA) | Mauritius | Swaziland | Zimbabwe | law | tariffs | Angola | Lesotho | Madagascar | Malawi | Mozambique | agreements | Botswana | Congo, Democratic Republic of the | Namibia | Zambia | trade | Tanzania | Africa

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