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MBABANE – SACU Executive Secretary Thabo David Khasipe says the region will provide red carpet treatment for customs and tax compliance businesses for SACU countries.

Khasipe was delivering his remarks during the 8th Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Summit held at the Mandvulo Grand Hall yesterday.
Khasipe said yesterday’s summit was to receive an update on the progress made in the implementation of the SACU Strategic Plan 2022-2027.
The secretary said it was with great pleasure to report that the SACU Secretariat and the member States had made a great progress in as far as the strategic plan implementation was concerned. Khasipe said one of the key highlights on the progress made was the rollout of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO).


He said this programme was basically red carpet treatment for customs and tax compliance businesses since the programme would expedite and reduce the cost of doing business for them in all the SACU countries. He said the SACU customs administration represented by the commissioner generals signed a memorandum of recognition two weeks ago. The secretary further said through this programme businesses accredited in any of the five SACU countries will be automatically accredited as a VIP businesses.

He said these businesses would expedite transit and processing of their products across their borders. Khasipe lamented that while trying to implement the strategy, they received punches on their faces in a form of unanticipated challenges. He said consequently the council of ministers had to hold a meeting in order to provide guidance on how SACU could continue to adapt in emerging risks.


It is worth noting that during the signing of the recognition agreement in the past weeks, Kungo Mabogo, SACU Secretariat Communications Manager, explained that the Authorised Economic Operator AEO programme was a flagship customs-business partnership. "It benefits both parties because it offers an opportunity for customs authorities to share compliance and security responsibilities with the private sector and, at the same time, rewards them with several trade facilitation benefits. Partnership programmes of this nature will allow revenue administrations to achieve more with less effort in the trade, with the goal of ensuring sustainable and long-term voluntary compliance through incentives. These AEO must maintain high-quality internal operational processes and have an appropriate record of compliance. In return, they will receive certain benefits to support their businesses,” said Mabogo.

The AEO programme supports international compliance models that aim to increase voluntary compliance. This requires customs to place more reliance on traders who choose to be compliant. The Heads of the SACU Revenue Administrations committed themselves ‘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 respond to all of its risks’.

Khasipe appreciated His Majesty King Mswati III and their entire summit for the leadership and guidance to the secretariat especially during the Kingdom of Eswatini’s tenure as the chairperson of SACU. Under his leadership as the Executive Secretary of SACU, Khasipe pledged his commitment to serve and support the SACU member States and the SACU institution to its best interests which include the betterment of the lives of the citizens of the five countries.


Professor Ricardo Hausmann, Founder and Director of Harvard’s University Growth Lab presented to the Summit on the theme ‘SACU Industrialisation Opportunities through Improving Economic Complexity’. Professor Hausmann started off by applauding the SACU Region for the enormous progress he was seeing in the region’s many dimensions of development. He noted that the gap in terms of life expectancy, use of schools, organisations as compared to the United States of America (USA) as a benchmark, was narrowing. He said however, when it came to income capita, the gap had widened. The professor said it was a bit of a puzzle to ask the question as to how could the foundations of development be converging but not completely diverging.