SERVICES IN COMESA – AN INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE
The growth of the services industry provides opportunities for regional economic growth, employment and development. Backbone services such as telecommunications, transport and other infrastructure services are critical importance to making trade happen, and shape the business environment and competitiveness of any economy.
For the majority of the COMESA member countries, services sectors account for a substantial share of domestic output, typically around 50% of GDP. Services outpace traditional manufacturing and agriculture sectors as contributors to growth, income and job creation. Trade in services has also grown exponentially in the COMESA region, offering enormous opportunities for COMESA countries to diversify their exports, increase investment, pursue new opportunities for dynamic and sustainable growth and promote greater efficiency in the domestic economy.
Despite recognition that the private sector has to be an integral part of the discussion around trade policies, there is much room for improvement in ensuring that the business sector – including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – has a seat at the discussion table. As the competitiveness of the services sectors often depends on the policies and regulatory practices that shape the services business environment, growth potential can be accelerated by more inclusive participation of the private sector in national, regional and international policy-making processes.
In 2014 and 2015, the COMESA Business Council carried out extensive private sector consultations to map services industries and services trade in the COMESA region and provide suggestions to promote services growth. Industries expressed the need to have cross-border synergies, such as business support services and direct participation of the private sector in the regional integration process that could contribute to the growth of their businesses. This joint International Trade Centre - COMESA Business Council paper is a response to these consultations. It provides a regional overview of services sectors and services trade for COMESA, and draws attention to growth and regional integration opportunities. It also analyses data for four key services areas: travel, transport, communication, and financial and insurance services. Finally, it provides ‘Services Snapshots’ for each COMESA country.
This report has set the foundation of key sector based projects under CBC from 2017- to date.
Click here for Services in COMESA, an Industry perspective
REGIONAL SERVICES WORKGROUPS
CBC regional services work group meetings, to strengthen sectorial services coalitions in areas of common interests as part of the ongoing negotiations on the liberalization of the schedules of commitment in trade in services. In 2020, CBC will be focusing on the following;
- Focus on Tourism workgroup- 2nd Tourism Summit- Transboundary synergies and competitive partnerships
- Digital Financial Services High Level - Public- Private Dialogue
For more information on the Tourism Sector projects in COMESA, please visit- http://biznet.comesabusinesscouncil.org/
Click here for COMESA Sustainable Tourism Development Framework
Professional services play a catalyst role in economic development of any nation. Empirical studies have demonstrated that usage of professional services is associated with higher labour productivity. It is also generally agreed that trade in professional services is probably the most resilient to economic shocks. The relevance of professional services to the COMESA region remains substantial and continues to grow.
COMESA Member States agreed that there should be an indicative list of priority sectors that includes the four sectors that are common between EAC and SADC; namely financial, communication, business and transport services. The list was extended to tourism, energy and construction and related engineering services. In May, 2010, The Second Meeting of the Committee on Trade in Services agreed to start the negotiations of schedules of commitments in the last quarter of the year, covering four priority sectors, namely, communication, transport, tourism and financial services
The second round of negotiations which focuses on the three additional priority areas of Business services, Energy services, and Construction and Related Engineering services has been initiated. The negotiations in the second round will also cover professional services, which fall under business services.
The level of trade, policies, regulations and practices for trade in professional services in the region are not well documented. In view of this, the COMESA Business Council (CBC) commissioned a study to undertake an assessment of trade in professional services in COMESA and propose key recommendations or frameworks to facilitate trade in professional services in the region, based on regional and international best practices
This will provide an informed position for the private sector as they seek to input into the ongoing negotiations that will shape the liberalization of services sectors in the COMESA region. Therefore, the study which was a combination of desk and field work, aimed at:
Identifying the level of development of professional services in the COMESA countries. Reviewing the level of liberalization of trade in professional services in the COMESA countries. Identifying main technical and policy challenges of implementation of the liberalization of trade in professional services. Identifying opportunities for increased trade in professional services. Identifying the necessary reforms to be undertaken to facilitate growth and trade in professional services in the region. Proposing key policy or regulatory frameworks or interventions to facilitate increased trade in professional services in COMESA.