This month will see ILEAP engaged heavily in East Africa, with a joint event with EABC and partners on 20-22 March to engage the private sector on the trade in services agenda under the Common Market Protocol, and notably with respect to labour mobility. This will be followed on 25 March with targeted training, delivered on behalf of GIZ, for the EAC Technical Working Group on Trade in Services.
As part of the preparation of possible trade in services negotiations under Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between West Africa (WA) and the European Union (EU), a Technical Working Group on services (TWG) was established by the ECOWAS Commission in March 2011 (supported by ILEAP). The TWG – composed of regional services experts – aims to support the region's negotiators in the preparation of the technical aspects of the inclusion of services in the EPA. It held its first meeting in Cotonou on 18- 21 April 2011, with a follow-up in Lomé on 21- 23 June 2011.
In February 2013, ILEAP followed up on a previous intervention to assist the DRC and the Ministry of Economy and Trade in particular to review various discussions on-going in different regional fora in the area of trade in services - including SADC and COMESA. Enhanced participation was sought notably for private sector actors, to assist in strengthening their understanding of the potential commitments and implications being considered. ILEAP also assisted the Ministry in developing a more robust national road map concerning trade in services negotiations.
ILEAP was invited to participate in a week-long series of meetings and workshops in the context of the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services. ILEAP also facilitated a full-day session with the private sector, aimed at arriving at concrete recommendations to strengthen private sector engagement in SADC services negotiations (both in the near-term and over the longer-term). The meeting also sought to raise awareness amongst both public and private sector officials about the concept of ‘services coalitions’ and the potential menu of interventions or activities that could be envisaged.
While there are many factors to consider in the development of an internationally competitive services sector, this paper highlights one of the key, far reaching factors for the private sector – the establishment of a national (and/or regional) coalition of service industries. It helps to demonstrate that the type of service coalitions evolving in developing countries offer an innovative channel to address a range of institutional and practical challenges to micro and small developing country services firms and as such, to unlocking the potential of the services sector to foster inclusive growth, sustainable development and ultimately poverty reduction.
Services affect growth and development through various pathways. They create incomes and employment, help the investment climate, contribute to consumer welfare and promote economic diversification. Services development and trade in services are being affected by capacity, regulatory and external constraints. Although the examined five sub-Saharan African Regional Economic Communities all address regional integration in services, investment and migration to varying degrees, there are mixed results with respect to the actual implementation of agreed provisions. While unique in many ways, there are some elements of commonality in the challenges and constraints being faced. There is a case to be made for supporting a continent-wide approach to promoting service sector development, regional services integration and services liberalization in Africa. This could include providing the AUC with a mandate and resources to monitor and facilitate on-going regional services integration efforts, with a view to establishing an African internal market for services. Interventions could be envisaged at the political and substantive levels.
Under the auspices of the African Union, this meeting convened representatives of Africa's RECs, alongside representatives from the private sector and international institutions to discuss the establishment of a platform for the RECs (and other relevant stakeholders) to share experiences on regional services integration, liberalization and sector development. Participants also deliberated on possibilities for continent-wide approaches, including the potential role for the African Union Commission and its partners.
ILEAP has been working with the government of Cote d’Ivoire to assist in better understanding the domestic regulatory environment in select sectors. National stakeholders recently convened again in Abidjan to review ILEAP sectoral studies in legal, accounting and telecommunication services, as well as to discuss in more detail the role of services negotiations and the private sector to support service sector development.
This event convened experts and policy makers from national governments, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the private sector and other non state actors throughout sub-Sahara Africa to discuss efforts and approaches for positioning services reforms and negotiations for development. The workshop helped to facilitate an enhanced understanding on the linkages between services reforms, negotiations, and sector development, while promoting greater coherence in the use of services negotiations and integration as a tool for service sector policy development.