GABORONE, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is optimistic of economic recovery driven by improved commodity prices and the continued growth in the advanced and emerging economies.
Kenneth Matambo, Botswana Minister of Finance and Economic Development, said at the opening of the 35th SACU Council of Ministers meeting in Gaborone, capital of Botswana on Wednesday that in line with global growth prospects brought by optimism in global economic growth, SACU was also projected to improve in the medium term.
The SACU Council of Ministers meeting was held on Wednesday as one in a series of meetings that make up the SACU 16th Summit that started in Gaborone on Monday.
The focus of the SACU Council of Ministers meeting was to consider the progress report on the implementation of the work program for the Ministerial Task Teams that will be presented to the sixth Summit scheduled for June 29.
The meeting will receive progress reports from the Ministerial Task Teams on Trade and Industry and on Finance.
He said while SACU member states remained positive on the global growth prospects, they were equally concerned about the rising protectionism and looming trade war between the U.S. on one hand and its trading partners on the other.
Matambo, therefore, said there was urgency for engagement at the multi-lateral levels to reach common ground and to contain these developments.
With regards to implementation of the work program for the Ministerial Task Teams, the secretariat has consolidated member states national position papers, which he said has resulted in the identification of areas of convergence and divergence and those that need further discussions by the member states.
Matambo further highlighted that more work was still to be undertaken in all the areas of the work program, including the work on Mechanism for Tariff Setting and Application of Tariffs, Rebates, Refunds and Duty Drawbacks and Trade Remedies, where he noted that there was limited progress made so far.
Matambo reminded ministers that as they proceeded with the implementation of the work program, they should remember that they were only left with a few months before the timeline set for concluding the implementation of the work program, which is December.
He further said SACU should ensure that it remained relevant and responsive to the needs and development challenges of all member states.
Matambo took the opportunity to express appreciation to member states for the support rendered to Botswana during its tenure to chair the SACU, which tenure comes to an end in July.
"As we pass on the leadership baton to the Kingdom of Lesotho, we remain committed to SACU. Our efforts should therefore be directed at advancing the SACU Agenda for the regional economic integration in order to make an impact on the lives of our citizens," he said.