The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Paulina Mbala Elago, and the Director for Economic Diplomacy at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Lewis Neal, officially announced partnership towards the implementation of the ongoing SACU Customs Modernisation Programme.
To cement the partnership, the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the programme.
The SACU Regional Customs Modernisation Programme seeks to strengthen collaboration and to enhance administrative efficiencies amongst Customs Administrations in the SACU Member States of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. 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.
The Programme is further 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.
To date the key regional Customs Tools and Frameworks have been developed. These include Model Bilateral Arrangement to facilitate automatic exchange of information; Preferred Trader Programme Engagement Strategy; Preferred Trader Programme Training Manuals on Risk Management and Audit for Customs Officials; Preferred Trader Programme Internal and External Manuals to guide Customs Officials and Traders on implementation of the Preferred Traders Programme; IT Connectivity Blue Print; IT Connectivity Utility Block “Your Export Is My Entry”; IT Connectivity Unique Consignment Reference; Regional Customs Risk Management and Enforcement Strategy as well as Regional Customs Compliance Management Strategy.
It is envisaged that upon full implementation of the SACU Customs Modernisation Programme, the SACU region will benefit from amongst others, reduced costs, predictability and transparency, improved co-operation and collaboration with various stakeholders, increased competitiveness and Sustainable customs reform and modernization 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.