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Traders to benefit from new SACU deal

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: editor@lestimes.co.ls Advertising: marketing@lestimes.co.ls Telephone: +266 2231 5356

Tokelo Khausela

FIVE states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) meant to benefit accredited traders in the member countries of Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa with lower costs and quicker turn-around times for imports and exports.

The deal will enable accredited traders to move goods quickly across borders within SACU to promote regional trade and economic development.

According to a recent SACU press release, traders who are branded Authorised Economic Operators (AEO)s across the member states of the SACU region will benefit from fast-tracked processing and reduced administration costs for customs clearance to help them move their goods faster and efficiently across the SACU borders.

In return for the programme to support their businesses, the AEOs will be expected to maintain their own high quality internal operational processes and an appropriate record of compliance with all customers procedures.

The programme aims to foster increased voluntary compliance with customs procedures by traders and reduce the burdens on tax authorities of trying to enforce compliance with customs protocols.

South African Revenue Services (SARS) Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, said the AEO programme supported SARS own strategic intent to work towards a system of voluntary compliance by taxpayers.

“This requires SARS to place more reliance on taxpayers and traders who choose to be compliant. The AEO programme does this, the quid pro quo is a level of accreditation, integrity, and trust, mutually built between the parties with tangible benefits in the form of expedited processing and other measures,” Mr Kieswetter said.

“The MRA will further boost trade opportunities and contribute to the smooth flow of goods between SACU countries and will also strengthen end-to-end supply chain security for trade in goods by promoting multi-layered risk-management and providing facilitation benefits to accredited dtraders.”

The executive secretary of SACU, Thabo Khasipe, said the AEO programme had now been mutually recognized by SACU.  Its benefits could now extend to compliant and accredited businesses, to operate seamlessly across the borders between SACU member states.

“I urge businesses to form mutually beneficial partnerships through the AEO programmme so that the region can extend economic benefits to all its citizens. This is a VIP system for trade in the region that can assist in developing the region,” Mr Khasipe said.

SACU had committed itself “to do the best we can” to facilitate cross-regional trade to ensure the success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, exploring all its opportunities and being alert to the need to respond to any risks it may present.

“It is in our hands as leaders of SACU Revenue Administrations to play a key role, in significantly reducing the stubborn residue of poverty, inequality, and unemployment amongst our people in our region and beyond,” the statement said.