After our in-depth look at the WTO negotiations in Hong Kong in December, we return to our usual format in this fourth issue of Inside Southern African Trade (INSAT).
This issue takes a critical look at the role of the private sector in shaping the regional business environment through
its participation in the policy process.
We highlight a number of instances where the private sector has lobbied for policy changes that have improved the circumstances in which it operates. On page seven we look at the significant tax cuts recently introduced by the Government of Lesotho and on page 19 we recount the success of the Botswana Cattle Producerís Association in obtaining higher prices for their cattle from the monopoly Botswana Meat Commission.
In reading through the issue, however, you will realize that business participation in the policy process at large has
been mainly ad hoc, sectoral, and uneven across the region.
Governments of the region are in the process of negotiating or considering trade agreements with potentially farreaching
and pervasive consequences. The proposed trade agreement between the US and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), for example, may include provisions that could have implications for industrial policy, labor policy, investment and trade in services, among others.
There is clearly an imperative for the private sector to engage not only at the sectoral and national level, but also at
the regional (referring here to SACU, SADC and COMESA) and multilateral levels where decisions are taken which could impact signifi cantly on the environment in which the private sector does business.
We hope that you will enjoy this issue of INSAT and invite you to share your opinions and suggestions with us.