The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has challenged member states to address challenges stalling cross-border movement of goods and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If not addressed effectively, (it) will remain a big a challenge beyond COVID-19,” SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax on Friday told a virtual meeting of the bloc’s Council of Ministers.
Obstacles the region has been observed include non-compliance and non-recognition of regional legal frameworks and coordination mechanisms, lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states, she said.
Other hindrances include unilateral decisions outside agreed frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies, and different approaches to dealing with epidemiological challenges, Tax said.
All these drive up cost of doing business, negatively affect implementation of national and regional programs, she said, calling for a well-coordinated SADC regional approach to COVID-19.
“We are in a post-lockdown period, where it is no longer about only essential goods, but facilitation of movement of all goods and services, so as to boost SADC intra-trade, stimulate production, and thus, economic prosperity of our economies,” she said.
The SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and, eventually, at continental level, she said, referring to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).
“The (SADC) Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services, under the Tripartite arrangement,” Tax said. Enditem