Striving for regional integration – the SADC protocol on finance and investment

Across the world small and large countries are coming together in regional markets to improve the lives of their people. In larger markets businesses can sell to more clients and people have more jobs to choose from. Foreign companies are also more likely to invest in a unified SADC market with 280 million people and a GDP of $650 billion (2011) rather than a single market with 2, 10 or even 40 million people.To create a regional market with multiple countries means that barriers have to be removed. Removing barriers to financial transactions between countries is called regional financial integration. It makes it easier for one company to invest in a neighbouring country, for one person to receive money from a family member working in another country, for one government to share customs revenue with another, and for pensioners to ensure that their hard earned money is invested to get the highest possible returns for their old age. Making regional financial integration happen requires countries who want to join the common market to set and apply common standards, harmonise their laws, and then work together to make sure that the common rules are applied with the same vigour by everybody. Making sure that this happens is what the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment (FIP) sets out to do.