The services sector in the SADC region is characterised by moderate investment, comparatively high cost and limited access to services by the general public. At the same time, it is acknowledged that services are the most important part of Southern African economies and are also important inputs to production in all sectors. Services are important elements for growth and competitiveness.
Most SADC Member States adopted services sector liberalization policies in the 1990s providing limited market access to foreign services suppliers, including through foreign direct investment. In 1995, all SADC Member States (except the Seychelles) became WTO Members and undertook binding liberalization commitments through the GATS.
SADC Member States recognise that the deeper integration not only of trade in goods, but also of their services markets holds great economic potential. In the SADC Treaty Member States undertook to develop policies aimed at the progressive elimination of obstacles to the free movement of capital and labor, goods and services. The Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), recalls the objective of eliminating obstacles to the free movement of capital, labor and goods and services and the improvement of the region's economic management and performance through regional cooperation with the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty, and foresees the establishment of a Common Market through removal of barriers on factors of production.
Protocol on Trade in Services
The Protocol on Trade in Services was signed by Heads of State during in August 2012. The Protocol sets out general obligations for all State Parties with regard to the treatment of services and service suppliers from other State Parties. It does not contain liberalization obligations, but provides for a mandate to progressively negotiate removal of barriers to the free movement of services.
Negotiations on the liberalisation of six priority sectors (communication services, construction services, energy-related services, financial services, tourism services, and transport services) were launched in April 2012, and are foreseen to be completed within three years. These negotiations are expected to result in market access commitments that will provide a predictable legal environment for trade and investment in the sector within the region.
- Protocol on Trade in Services
- Protocol on Trade
- Protocol on Finance and Investment
- Protocol on Movement of Persons
- Protocol on Energy
- Protocol on Tourism Development
- Protocol on Transport
- Declaration on Information and Communication Technologies
More detailed information on trade in services in SADC can be found on the SADC Trade in Services Portal.