The AfCFTA Secretariat, in partnership with the World Bank, has carried out Regulatory Audits on Trade in Services for all African countries. The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area Trade in Services Regulatory Audit Reports is an exciting development for Africa and a major milestone in establishing Africa as a major regional trader in services. With this important step, Africa is taking leadership in ensuring fairness and transparency when it comes to trade under the AfCFTA.
The reports identify restrictions on market access and national treatment affecting the supply of services into the country as defined in the AfCFTA Trade in Services Protocol. The summary is accompanied by detailed descriptions that thoroughly document each trade restriction and its legal reference. For example, one of the areas where this data is particularly useful is in the tourism sector. By understanding the restrictions on market access and national treatment impacting tourism services, countries can work to remove those barriers and create a more open and welcoming environment for tourists. This, in turn, can help to boost the economy through increased tourism revenue. The goal of the compiled reports across the various priority sectors is to support Phase I negotiations on Trade in Services under the AfCFTA agreement.
The Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) is a valuable resource for policymakers and researchers interested in the cross-border provision of services. It contains information on trade restrictions and behind-the-border regulation in a range of sectors, including computer services, construction, professional services, telecommunications, distribution, audiovisual services, transport, courier, financial services, and logistics services. The policy measures are categorised under five policy areas:
- Restrictions on foreign ownership and other market entry conditions
- Restrictions on the movement of people
- Other discriminatory measures and international standards
- Barriers to competition and public ownership
- Regulatory transparency and administrative requirements
Using this methodology, the reports can be used to assess the stringency of trade policy measures in these areas and to compare the level of restriction across countries. In addition, the methodology can be used to examine the impact of trade restrictions on the efficiency and competitiveness of service industries.
The program launch at the Palais des Congres, Salle Huit in Niamey Niger on November 24th 2022 was a very successful and inspiring event. Mr. Han Fraeters, Country Manager of the World Bank in Niger, gave remarks representing the program’s supporting partners which included the European Union, GIZ, World Trade Organization, and more while Ms. Emily Mburu-Ndoria, Director of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property and Trade in Services presented valuable insights into the Report’s overview, background and summary of findings.
The objective of the launch was to recognize the hard work, dedication and commitment by participating partners that enabled the compilation of the report to take place and help Africa move closer towards achieving greater integration in service trade. In addition, launching the reports provides clarity on the technical matters within them, thus better preparing African countries for successful participation in services trading under the AfCFTA protocol. Finally, formally distributing the report to relevant stakeholders ensures they are made more widely available than ever before so all parties have access to key provisions necessary for trading effectively across Africa.
The launch of AfCFTA Trade in Services Regulatory Audit Reports is an immensely positive development for Africa which elucidates restrictions that impair cross-trade relations between African nations. Its success lies heavily on all parties involved using this tool appropriately to gain greater understanding of Africa’s service markets and create meaningful agreements regarding trade within those markets. Undoubtedly cooperation between partners within each market is going to enhance new avenues of growth on the continent. This is what brings us one step closer to realizing our potential as a leader in global trade. By investing such effort into this important initiative it promises to open doors of opportunity.