July 12, 2022

SADC Ministers of Trade review progress on consolidation of the SADC Free Trade Area to liberalise intra-regional trade

Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) need to step up efforts to accelerate intra-regional trade by addressing challenges that humper the region’s quest for increased trade in the SADC region.

Honourable Mark Katsonga Phiri, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the 33rd Committee of Ministers of Trade has said this during the official opening of the 33rd meeting of the Committee of Ministers of Trade which was held in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi on the 8th July 2022.

The Minister urged Member States to address issues that include low supply capacity, limited industrialisation, poor logistics for movement of goods and services, protectionism, poor infrastructure and non-harmonisation and cooperative mechanisms for cross-border infrastructure, imposition of non-tariff barriers including stringent rules of origin, poor implementation of trade commitments, among others.

SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency Elias Mpedi Magosi underscored the importance of consolidatign the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) which is key to collective efforts to liberalise SADC intra-regional trade in goods and services. 

He emphasized that regional integration in SADC would only succeed under an appropriate regulatory environment, and requested Member States to prioritise the ratification of legal instruments as they form a framework for cooperation and serve as enablers to the regional agenda.

In their meeting, the Ministers noted the proposed work on the development of SADC Regional Consumer Policy Framework and Model Law; endorsed the proposal by the Secretariat on the separation of Competition Policy from Consumer Policy; and directed the Secretariat to fast-track the process towards the development of the SADC Regional Consumer Policy and Model Law.

On the Implementation of EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Programme, the Ministers noted that Several capacity building initiatives on EU-SADC EPA were provided to SADC EPA States stakeholders to enable them to implement and to trade under the EU-SADC EPA; and noted the resubmission of EU-SADC EPA Review and urged Member States to participate in the review process.

The Ministers hailed the entry into Force of the Protocol on Trade in Services and urged Member States to widely publicise the Protocol; directed the Secretariat to fast track the development of the Regional Implementation Action Plan and urged those Member States that need technical assistance in the development of their National Implementation Action Plans to submit their requests to the Secretariat.

The Ministers approved the SADC Simplified Trade Regime Procedure Manuals and related training materials which are aimed at building capacity of customs officials and other stakeholders and raise awareness on the SADC Simplified Trade Regime Framework.