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The SADC Protocol on Trade in Services: What is necessary to support the establishment of an integrated market?

Trade Reports

The SADC Protocol on Trade in Services: What is necessary to support the establishment of an integrated market?

The SADC Protocol on Trade in Services: What is necessary to support the establishment of an integrated market?

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In August 2012, the Members States (MS) of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) adopted the Protocol on Trade in Services. The preamble to the Protocol provides for the establishment of “an integrated regional market for services”, to unlock the potential of the region’s services market so that businesses and consumers may take full advantage of the opportunities that this Protocol presents.

The establishment of an integrated market involves a complex collection of issues – from setting minimum regional standards and prescribing national administrative procedures to creating regional and national institutional settings so as to ensure and maintain regulatory cooperation and to address potential disputes. Many different procedures should be undertaken simultaneously. SADC MS have adopted various other protocols on specific services sectors.

This sectoral approach of SADC dates back to the days of its predecessor, the Southern African Development Coordination Conference. The challenge now created by the Protocol on Trade in Services is to find synergy between different policy and regulatory streams (i.e. the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services and other SADC Protocols on specific services sectors) to provide a coherent framework for an integrated market for different services sectors. The interface between services sector regulation and other regulatory areas such as competition policy is extremely important in this context.

This paper outlines the rationale for services sector regulation at the national level. It then considers the objectives, scope and application of the Protocol on Trade in Services and the implications it may have for trade negotiations with third parties. The relationship between the Protocol on Trade in Services and other SADC Protocols on specific services sectors is discussed with specific focus on infrastructure services sectors.

A key consideration in the context of this discussion is to what extent the services sector protocols have been implemented, because they all include provisions that relate directly to issues covered in the Protocol on Trade in Services. The important question is how will this be dealt with in the current negotiation process? Finally, the paper considers the requirements for the implementation of the Protocol on Trade in Services.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

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