tralac SACU Workshop – Industrial Development & tariff management, November 2017
On 30 November and 1 December, tralac hosted public officials and private sector representatives from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) for a workshop on Industrial Development and Tariff Management Matters.
Over two days, participants discussed and debated the future of SACU, industrial development in the region and how these two themes interact, particularly in the context of tariff management.
Participants heard from tralac Executive Director, Trudi Hartzenberg and Associates Gerhard Erasmus and Anton Faul about where SACU is heading, where it could head, and what this might mean for industrial development in the region.
In reflecting on the history of SACU; presenters noted that SACU as originally conceived was not designed as a regional organisation and challenged participants to think about what they wanted to achieve from membership of the organisation.
Participants discussed the increased interest in industrial development – including a broader conception of industrial policy that focusses on linkages and relationships across the entire economy.
Participants identified challenges associated with SACU in its current form and shared experiences from within their economies as well as plans for future work – particularly the development of national trade bodies in the BLNS countries. The SACU secretariat briefed the group on the new SACU work programme and participants scrutinised the details of the programme to identify opportunities to shape the SACU of the future.
Participants and tralac developed a research agenda to inform ongoing discussions and after the two days, participants went away with new thinking on issues to take forward, for discussion at member state level, and at SACU.
While the workshop did not quite solve all the problems associated with SACU, nor address the industrial development of the SACU countries, it gave participants the opportunity to reflect on the role of SACU in industrial development, and come up with some next steps to further the economic and social development in the region.