The Committee of Ministers of Trade (CMT) of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has approved the extension of the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) for the period 2020-2030 in line with the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the implementation of category B and C of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Facilitation.
The TFP was initially approved in March of 2016 to advance and consolidate the SADC Free Trade Area. The CMT, which met at the end of July 2021, urged SADC Member States to ensure that the activities contained in the TFP are mainstreamed into their national plans in order to support the implementation plans, industrialisation strategy, the regional integration agenda, and mobilistion of the resources.
The SADC TFP contains 28 activities under Transparency, Predictability, Simplification and Cooperation clusters. The programme is meant to support the consolidation of the SADC FTA in general and the implementation of the Industrialisation Strategy in particular.
Among the 28 activities of the TFP are Fees and Charges; a Trade Information Portal; Risk Management; Transit Management System; Coordinated Border Management; Simplified Trade Regime; Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers; Electronic Certificate of Origin; and Data Exchange and Interconnectivity.
It is expected that the progressive roll-out and implementation of the TFP will allow Member States to implement these activities, which were not implemented or were implemented partially due to resource constraints in most Member States, and also at the Secretariat level, which will ultimately lead to improving the ease of doing business in the SADC Region.
The SADC TFP is aimed at increasing SADC intra-regional trade flows by supporting trade facilitation, strengthening capacities for streamlining border processes and monitoring and resolving non-tariff and technical barriers to trade. The programme also promotes implementation of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The extension of the SADC TFP will overcome some of the challenges affecting intra-regional trade in the Region, such as supply-side constraints, the high cost of trading among Member States prompted by poor infrastructure, restrictive practices, delays in clearing procedures for imports and exports, complex Rules of Origin and inefficient transit traffic issues, and the proliferation of Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade (NTBs).
SADC Member States have not been participating in the higher end of the global value chains, with exports consisting mainly of commodities and unprocessed products, which create few employment opportunities and do not boost economic growth. This is partly due to challenges regarding compliance of standards and the difficulties in accessing international markets.
By developing a more favourable trading environment through TFP, SADC Member States will be able to better compete in the various market places, enhance intra-regional trade and integrate faster in global value chains, creating wealth, jobs and additional government revenues.
Part of the activities contained in the SADC TFP is supported by a €15 million package from the European Union (EU) for the period 2019-2024 under the 11th Economic Development Fund (EDF), which commenced in September 2019 after the signing of the Contribution Agreement and Finance Agreement between SADC and EU.
The EU-SADC TFP is a window (envelop) which can support the implementation of some activities which is in the SADC TFP. These activities, among others, includes Electronic Certificate of Origin, Coordinated Border Management, Regional Transit Guarantee, EPA Rules of Origin, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) as defined by the WTO Agreement on the application of SPS and TBT measures.
EU-SADC Trade Facilitation Programme is there to support the implementation of SADC Trade Facilitation Programme.