Services Policy Review: ECOWAS (Parts 1 and 2)
Trade in services has become a dominant driver of economic growth and development in both developed and developing economies. Since the 1980s, evidence has shown that a stronger correlation exists between trade in services growth and gross domestic product (GDP) than is the case for merchandised growth and GDP.
Trade in services sectors are essential to the efficient functioning of all economies. They strengthen countries' productive capacity and have the potential to induce structural transformation in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The quality of policies, regulations and institutional frameworks is a key determinant of services performance. Because services are increasingly subject to liberalization under multilateral, plurilateral and regional trade agreements it is important that countries develop coherent approaches to domestic regulation and trade liberalization in the services sector, prior or at least in parallel to engaging in such negotiations. Instituting effective coordination mechanisms between trade negotiators, policymakers and regulators will be an essential tool for the development of such coherent approaches.
ECOWAS Member States are engaged in trade in services at many levels. They are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and as such have already negotiated liberalization of trade in services.
ECOWAS Member States – through the ECOWAS Commission’s Department for Trade, Customs and Free Movement – with the assistance of UNCTAD, initiated the ECOWAS Services Policy Review, the outcome of which is this report.
The report has been developed in close communication and collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and the member states and a broad range of national government, business and civil stakeholders.
Objective of this Review:
Assess, in general terms, the current state of development in the services sector.
Identify achievements, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges in specific services subsectors.
Identify or determine policy options, including regulatory, institutional and sector-specific trade policy reform measures that can enhance the contribution of services to the advancement of national/regional developmental objectives.
Articulate ways to ensure the sustainability of the development gains occasioned by services sector reforms, including in their contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Identify specific measures aimed at strengthening capacities to engage effectively in services trade and services trade negotiations such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and other future external trade in services negotiations.