SACU summit to find solutions to the impact of COVID-19: Patel

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Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel says five Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional leaders will use the Seventh Southern Customs Union (SACU) summit to find solutions to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the regional bloc.

He was speaking to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) ahead of the one-day gathering scheduled for Gaborone, Botswana later on Thursday morning.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will join his counterparts from Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and eSwatini to discuss ways of ramping up trade and export as well as investment opportunities among the five SACU member states.

Patel says the regional leaders will discuss a wide range of issues.

He adds that the SACU is an important instrument to help with the full realisation of the African Free Trade Area.

SACU was formed in the early 1900s to facilitate the movement of goods between the five-member states, South Africa, Lesotho, eSwatini, Botswana and Namibia.

It is the oldest customs union in the world.

Patel says  SACU has the potential to create many jobs.

“SACU is the place where we put together a common position on trade for the rest of the African continent. More than a quarter million jobs in South Africa are dependent on what we are selling to the rest of the African continent.”

“So, the African trade is a very big part of our job space, our economic growth and what we generate in a way of taxes that we use for housing, health care, education and so on and so our focus has been on why the inability of African countries to trade with each other. Parliament has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area and this year we seek to complete the offer to each other and in that way help to create more jobs,” says Patel.