The Southern African Development Council – Non Governmental Organization, (SADC Council of NGOs) and other civil societies have raised concerns in the process of regional integration and development in the Sub-region.
Addressing the 8th national high level dialogue on informal cross border trade on Monday in Maputo, Mozambique, the Vice President of South Africa Cross Traders Association (SACBTA), Sudecar Novela, stated that the major challenge in the process is not finance but money and commitment across the stakeholders.
He said that strengthening the existing informal cross border trade as well as implementing the road map of the regional customs unions need to be looked at carefully as they play an important role.
He further said the SADC that “we┬á want” would be accomplished by acknowledging the participation of the informal sector’s contribution to the economic growth in the SADC region.
Novela also said that simplifying policy mechanism of the informal cross border trade is also crucial. He added that there should be transparency on tariffs displayed at ports of entry, which could also improve trade. Furthermore, amongst the concern in the cross border trade, Novela asked for dissemination of customs code directory for the SADC region.
“How practical are the structures of the civil societies and do they really work?” he asked.
He stated that to improve the trade environment, there is need to involve civil society in the process of regional integration and development. He said that SADC needs friendly and free trade zone for the finance and investment sectors.
Representing SADC-CNGOs, Bob Muchabaiwa echoed Novela’s words that there should be facilitation of sustainable and constructive engagement between non-governmental organizations from all members states and the various SADC institutions at regional level. He further said it is key to enhance the capacities of civil society in the region to participation in and influence SADC structures and processes. ┬á┬á┬á┬á
“The policies should not be biased to big business in the region but should be accommodative for the cross border traders,” he said.
Muchabaiwa stated that the region needs to be simplified and harmonized in order to address the challenges currently at a regional level. He said the 8th annual forum is strategic as it came a week before the major annual SADC forum, which is also scheduled for Maputo as the host.
He further pointed out that they are “the voice of NGOs at SADC level”.
“Women’s perspective, youth perspective and the entire regional perspective should be taken into consideration when dealing with the deeper process of regional integration,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the forum was supported financially and technically by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Botswana, European Union, SADC Secretariat and Austrian Development Agency.