The SADC Protocol on Trade in Services enters into force – what is in it for services trade and for services suppliers?
The Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to liberalise trade in the service sectors in efforts to enhance regional integration and the creation of a regional single services market. The services liberalisation ambition is articulated in the objective of the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services (PTIS), signed in 2012 and which entered into force in January 2022. It provides for the creation of a liberalised single services market, through the removal of substantially all trade barriers, in all commercial or tradable services and any services sector, for equitable market access based on mutual benefits across the membership.
The SADC liberalisation programme envisages a progressive process whereby the Member States undertake sector-specific commitments, through successive rounds of negotiations; and the results thereof (i.e., the agreed List of Member States’ Commitments), upon their adoption by the Committee of Ministers of Trade (CMT), will be annexed to, and form an integral part of, the PTIS. After a lengthy negotiation process, the CMT adopted the final agreed and legally scrubbed List of Member States’ Commitments in two batches. The June 2018 package covered the horizontal commitments and sector-specific commitments in the communication, financial, tourism and transport services together with five annexes. The July 2019 package consists of the List of Commitments in the construction and energy-related services and an Annex providing for pro-trade regulation of postal and courier services. In 2021 the CMT adopted the Negotiating Guidelines for the second round negotiations which shall, among others, cover negotiations in the remaining services sectors, i.e., business, distribution, education, environmental health and related social services and the recreational, cultural and sports services.
This Trade Report elaborates the obligations and rights of the Member States and businesses that are in the SADC PTIS, and in particular unpacks the results of the first round of negotiations and business opportunities arising from the List of Commitments in the six priority sectors. The objective is to assist researchers, businesses, and other stakeholders in the region to understand and make use of the Member States’ List of Commitments, which use some technical jargon, often difficult for stakeholders outside the trade negotiation forum, to apply in their daily business operations.
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