Movement of Service Providers in the EAC: Legal Analysis
The East African Community (EAC) achieved a common market in 2009 when the Heads of States and Governments signed the Common Market Protocol (CMP). It became effective in July 2010 after ratification by all the state parties. The scope of CMP applies to any activity undertaken in cooperation by the state parties to achieve the free movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital and to ensure the enjoyment of the rights of establishment and residence of their nationals within the Community (article 5).
The movement of natural persons is covered under Part D – movement of persons and labour (article 7-12) and Part F – movement of service providers (article 16) of the CMP. Movement of persons comprises of citizens travelling to another state party for reasons other than economic activities while those intending to engage in economic activity are categorised as workers or service suppliers. Movement of services includes the supply of services through the four modes: cross-border (mode 1), consumption abroad (mode 2), commercial presence (mode 3), and presence of a natural persons (mode 4). Parties agreed to harmonise and mutually recognise academic and professional qualifications (article 11) and harmonise labour policies and programmes, in order to facilitate movement of labour (article 12).
The CMP has schedules of commitments on the movement of workers (annex II) and on progressive liberalisation of services (annex V), covering seven priority sectors such as business, communication, distribution, financial, educational, tourism and transport services. All state parties’ mode 4 commitments are linked to the schedule on movement of workers. In 2012, some of the state parties reported some challenges in implementing mode 4 commitments partly due to the linkages to movement of workers but also due to other discrepancies in the CMP. Subsequently, state parties agreed to amend CMP and the negotiations for the amendments are underway. Further, some progress has been made on Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on professional services as envisaged in article 11 of CMP. MRAs covering accounting, architectural and engineering services have been signed. The negotiations are on-going for veterinary and surveyor’s MRAs.
This paper intends to assess what has so far been the implementation of the commitments made in these professional services plus educational services. The assessment will focus on policy and regulatory changes, and examine any implementation challenges. This will contribute to the on-going mode 4 negotiations and inform the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite and Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) services negotiations.
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