AUC holds Services Sector Development Programme (SSDP) Workshop for Member States and RECs
The African Union Commission Department of Trade and Industry, opened the Service Sector development workshop at the African Union Commission Headquarters on 1 October 2016.
The main objective of this workshop is to review and enrich the Service Sector Development Programme (SSD) and to build capacity of Member States and RECs in tailoring the SSDP to their respective jurisdictions.
The Service Sector Development Programme is designed to; address the need for a strategic approach to service sector development; help strengthen the capacity of AU officials to negotiate trade in services; promote the engagement of the private sector as an active voice in the discussion.
At the opening session, Mrs. Treasure Maphanga, Director of Trade and Industry highlighted that “Services are a key determinant of competitiveness of manufacturing export and crucial for the industrial and manufacturing development of African countries, as well for boosting agricultural productivity”
Mrs. Maphanga expressed her appreciation to USAID, UNDP, EU, ILEAP, GIZ and Commonwealth secretariat for their support on the compendium of the case studies on “Services Exports for Growth and Development”.
She concluded her speech by reminding the room: “With experiences around this room at Member State and REC level, I believe that at the end of this workshop, we shall have learnt some best practices that will trigger reforms in our respective jurisdictions.”
AU Member States, COMESA, EAC, as well as International organizations and UN agencies such as AUC, UNECA, TRALAC, and UNCTAD attended the workshop.
There is consensus between, researchers, policy makers and private sector that economic transformation cannot be achieved with a lagging services sector. The evidence produced has changed the traditional growth trajectory where Services came at the latter part of the economic development.
The value of trade in services, when taken from a value added perspective, may be approaching half of world trade exports (45% OECD) and half of African exports (UNECA 2015) and that reduction in supply chain barriers like Customs Administration, Transport, Communication infrastructure and services could increase world GDP over 6 times more than the removal of all tariffs (WEF-WB 2013).
Services industries continue to drive FDI growth and LDCs remain key services investment destinations despite of fall in other sectors like manufacturing. Specifically for Africa we know that for example in 2012, services accounted for 70% of FDI projects in 2012 (up from 45% in 2007 (EY)), limited manufacturing base has given rise to the movement of workers in Africa into services from Agriculture (World Bank 2014) and services employ an average 47 per cent of the workforce in the 12 African countries.
The Share of services in overall output rose by 3.2% between period 2001-2004 to the period 2009-2012 and this was highest among exporters of manufactured goods (UNCTAD 2015). This evidence points to the fact that services are key determinant of competitiveness of manufacturing exports and crucial for the industrial and manufacturing development of African countries, as well as in boosting agricultural productivity.