WCO supports the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) in the harmonized implementation of SACU’s Authorized Economic Operator Mutual Recognition Arrangement

16 May 2024

The World Customs Organization (WCO)’s Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme, as funded by the United Kingdom’s His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in partnership with the SACU Secretariat and the South African Revenue Service (SARS), delivered a Workshop to support SACU Members to increase a harmonized approach towards implementing the SACU AEO Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). The Workshop followed a blended approach, with virtual sessions taking place from 2 to 12 April and a Workshop hosted by SARS in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 15 to 19 April.

The SACU Secretariat’s Deputy Director of Trade Facilitation, Ms Maggie Ngoanamokgotho Tladi, underlined the SACU strategic priorities as approved by the SACU Council of Ministers, underscoring the region’s commitment to enhancing trade facilitation, investment promotion and regional integration through the AEO Programme. In this context, the Workshop focused on joint efforts to increase the uptake of the AEO Programme in the SACU member states as part of the SACU AEO MRA adopted in May 2023. This endeavour seeks to ensure a harmonized approach and clear benefits for traders with AEO status across respective SACU member countries while expanding the AEO Programme to economic operators beyond importers and exporters.

WCO experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) shared their experiences in designing and implementing their respective regional AEO Programmes and MRAs, thus contributing to the SACU deliberations on further developing its operational instruments. The Head of the WCO’s Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme highlighted the importance of leveraging the benefits of the Customs-to-Customs partnership to share expertise, experience, and best practices to ensure traders can fully benefit from the potential that the SACU MRA offers.

The Workshop cemented the AEO concept’s importance in boosting economies and regional integration through various tools and instruments.

In addition, the participants were given tools on performance management by the WCO to identify potential Key Performance Indicators.

During the closing ceremony, Ms. Penny Bologo, Executive Accreditation SARS AEO Division, stated, “These insights will inform our strategies and shape our approach moving forward. I can confidently say that SACU has been empowered. This week, we have delved deeper into the AEO MRA and explored the practical tools for implementing our AEO Programme.”.

The WCO is looking forward to continuing its strategic multi-year partnership with its partner countries in the region (i.e. South Africa, Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho) under the framework of the WCO Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme and appreciates the collaborative efforts, support and participation of the SARS and SACU Secretariat in this regional partnership.

For more information on the WCO Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme, please see here or contact capacity.building@wcoomd.org.