Africa‘s potential lies in trade in services

The Training Workshop on Trade in Services Negotiations for AU-CFTA Negotiators kicked off today and has been attended by H.E. Mr. Oumar Sarr, the Minister of Trade in Senegal as well as by the partners of the African Union (AU). The General Objective is to build the capacity of services negotiators in Africa to effectively benefit from trade in services opportunities at bi-lateral, regional and multilateral levels but most importantly to prepare for the CFTA negotiations on Services that were launched in June 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Workshop will also provide a forum to share experiences of successful services exports and brain storm on a strategy for CFTA Services Negotiations

On behalf of the Commissioner of Trade and Industry H.E Fatima Haram Acyl, Mr. Batanai Chikwene welcomed all participants to the Training Workshop on Trade in Services Negotiations for AU-CFTA Negotiators in Dakar, Senegal from 7 to 11 December 2015 and  thanked the Government of Senegal and the Ministry of Trade for the key role played in this event and for their commitment in supporting the private sector in services exports in particular in the areas of ITO and Business Processing Outsourcing.

Mr. Chikwene noted that the service sector could provide an alternative engine of growth, enabling some latecomers to development to “leapfrog” what has been seen as the traditional manufacturing route to development. The Services sector accounts for an average 49% of GDP in the low income countries and 47% in the LDCs.  A competitive manufacturing and agricultural sectors is based on an efficient Services sector which is key to the Africa’s participation in global value chains.

Despite the success stories services exports in Africa, he indicated that there is a big gap between the awareness of government in public sector and services operators and firms in the private sector, where integration in services is happening. “Raising awareness to overcome this “perception gap” in Africa is critical at the continental level as well as at the sub-regional and national levels, where the incorporation of Service Sector development into mainstream economic planning and development priorities remains lagging”, he emphasized

“The CFTA seeks to bring the dreams of our fore-leaders as enshrined in the Abuja Treaty to have a single African Market with movement of Goods, Services, Capital and Persons.” added the Director.

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Trade H.E Mr. Oumar Sarr welcomed the participants of the workshop and thanked the African Union for the training workshop and for choosing Senegal as a venue for it. The Minister stressed on the importance of creation of areas dedicated to services and he underlined the timely capacity building training initiated by trade and industry department in the African Union Commission (AUC).

The Minister also underlined that it is imperative for African countries to process and add value to their raw materials, as this will have a direct impact on the growth of services sectors and also contribute to the growth of in trade in services. The establishment of the CFTA is a major opportunity to boost trade within the continent. Minister Sarr also emphasized the importance of African countries speaking with one voice during the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya on 15-18 December 2015.

The urgency of this capacity building initiative stems from the mandate to negotiate a Continental Free Trade Area for Goods and Services by the indicative date of 2017. The AU Heads of State and Government during their Twenty Fifth Ordinary Session in June in Johannesburg South Africa Adopted the Objectives and Guiding Principles for the CFTA negotiations, wherein Trade in Services and Trade in Goods are to be negotiated concurrently.  Beyond the CFTA Services Negotiations, African Countries are still engaged in Trade in services negotiations at the multilateral level, regional and bi-lateral level which require expertise.

During this training workshop presentations will be delivered from different institutions related to services in the economy, and in the African region, WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and services in Doha round of negotiations, schedules of commitments for services, Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), as well as overview of various approaches of services liberalization.

Source: African Union Commission (AUC)

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