AfCFTA Trade in Services Regulatory Audit Reports launched
The AfCFTA Secretariat, in partnership with the World Bank, has carried out Regulatory Audits on Trade in Services for all African countries. The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area Trade in Services Regulatory Audit Reports is an exciting development for Africa and a major milestone in establishing Africa as a major regional trader in services. With this important step, Africa is taking leadership in ensuring fairness and transparency when it comes to trade under the AfCFTA.
The reports identify restrictions on market access and national treatment affecting the supply of services into the country as defined in the AfCFTA Trade in Services Protocol. The summary is accompanied by detailed descriptions that thoroughly document each trade restriction and its legal reference. For example, one of the areas where this data is particularly useful is in the tourism sector. By understanding the restrictions on market access and national treatment impacting tourism services, countries can work to remove those barriers and create a more open and welcoming environment for tourists. This, in turn, can help to boost the economy through increased tourism revenue. The goal of the compiled reports across the various priority sectors is to support Phase I negotiations on Trade in Services under the AfCFTA agreement.
The Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) is a valuable resource for policymakers and researchers interested in the cross-border provision of services. It contains information on trade restrictions and behind-the-border regulation in a range of sectors, including computer services, construction, professional services, telecommunications, distribution, audiovisual services, transport, courier, financial services, and logistics services. The policy measures are categorised under five policy areas:
- Restrictions on foreign ownership and other market entry conditions
- Restrictions on the movement of people
- Other discriminatory measures and international standards
- Barriers to competition and public ownership
- Regulatory transparency and administrative requirements
Using this methodology, the reports can be used to assess the stringency of trade policy measures in these areas and to compare the level of restriction across countries. In addition, the methodology can be used to examine the impact of trade restrictions on the efficiency and competitiveness of service industries.
The program launch at the Palais des Congres, Salle Huit in Niamey Niger on November 24th 2022 was a very successful and inspiring event. Mr. Han Fraeters, Country Manager of the World Bank in Niger, gave remarks representing the program’s supporting partners which included the European Union, GIZ, World Trade Organization, and more while Ms. Emily Mburu-Ndoria, Director of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property and Trade in Services presented valuable insights into the Report’s overview, background and summary of findings.
The objective of the launch was to recognize the hard work, dedication and commitment by participating partners that enabled the compilation of the report to take place and help Africa move closer towards achieving greater integration in service trade. In addition, launching the reports provides clarity on the technical matters within them, thus better preparing African countries for successful participation in services trading under the AfCFTA protocol. Finally, formally distributing the report to relevant stakeholders ensures they are made more widely available than ever before so all parties have access to key provisions necessary for trading effectively across Africa.
The launch of AfCFTA Trade in Services Regulatory Audit Reports is an immensely positive development for Africa which elucidates restrictions that impair cross-trade relations between African nations. Its success lies heavily on all parties involved using this tool appropriately to gain greater understanding of Africa’s service markets and create meaningful agreements regarding trade within those markets. Undoubtedly cooperation between partners within each market is going to enhance new avenues of growth on the continent. This is what brings us one step closer to realizing our potential as a leader in global trade. By investing such effort into this important initiative it promises to open doors of opportunity.
Launch of the AfCFTA Private Sector Mapping and Glossary
On Thursday, 24th November in Niamey, Niger, the AfCFTA Secretariat held an important seminar in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC). On the margins of the AU Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger and in the context of Africa Industrialisation Week, this private sector focused event provided key update on the status of the negotiations in order to help businesses to prepare for the implementation of the AfCFTA. Since the entry into force of the AfCFTA, the international business community has eagerly awaited the outcome of the AfCFTA negotiations due to its potential to radically transform intra-Africa trade.
The AfCFTA partnered with ITC to conduct a private sector mapping, which is the process of detailing not only current corporate engagement but particularly Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Africa and how they can engage with the AfCFTA. The private sector mapping was also conducted for different reasons, including to understand how potential private partners are currently engaging with each other, what private-public interactions may exist around key topics or industries, and to support the AfCFTA’s private sector engagement strategy. The report also helps identify opportunities for collective action, isolate key challenges or success factors for industry engagement on given topics, and serves as a foundation for private sector-led policy dialogues. In short, this private sector mapping study is a critical tool for understanding and harnessing the private sector’s potential to contribute to Africa’s development through trade.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) is a United Nations body that provides support to policymakers in regional trade negotiations and policy reforms. ITC also builds up knowledge and capacity in the private sector on regional trade. In this way, the ITC helps to ensure that domestic frameworks are aligned with regional commitments, and that the private sector has the necessary skills and information to participate in international trade. As a result, the ITC plays an important role in promoting international trade and economic development, by building capacity within the private sector.
At the event, the Minister of Trade for Niger made opening remarks welcoming delegates and participants to the session. Dr. Amani Asfour, President of the African Business Council and Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Pamela Coke-Hamilton both emphasised during their remarks that the private sector would contribute significantly to unlocking development potential in Africa. Against this backdrop, H.E. Wamkele Mene delivered his keynote address after which a ministerial panel was held to discuss accelerating AfCFTA implementation. A QnA session was held with participants who also highlighted the need for greater access to information on market trends and better awareness of business opportunities on a local, regional, and global which would contribute significantly to increasing trade activity and foster job creation across Africa.
Glossary: Unpacking the AfCFTA
Furthermore, the International Trade Centre partnered with the AfCFTA Secretariat to develop the AfCFTA glossary to “unpack” the Agreement and empower small businesses to utilise new opportunities created by the AfCFTA. This glossary helps readers to equip Africa’s small businesses, including micro, medium and small enterprises, to better understand the legal, commercial and customs terms of the AfCFTA Agreement. The AfCFTA is a historic agreement that has the potential to transform the lives of millions of Africans by creating new opportunities for trade and investment. However, it is important to note that the AfCFTA is a complex agreement, and small businesses will need to be familiar with the terms used in order to take advantage of these new opportunities. The ITC’s partnership with the AfCFTA Secretariat will help to ensure that small businesses have the tools they need to participate in the AfCFTA and to contribute to Africa’s economic development.
Grace Khoza – Principal Communications Advisor