New Market Openings for Intra-African Trade
African countries work to open five key services sectors to one another in the AfCFTA.
Services sectors such as financial services, business services, and tourism are key drivers of economic growth in some African countries such as Ghana. Expanding intra-African trade in services is a central goal of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As part of the AfCFTA negotiations, African countries are currently negotiating services-related commitments in five priority sectors: business services (including areas such as accounting, legal, and ICT-related services, among others), financial services, communication, transportation, and tourism. As of January 2022, 46 countries had submitted services offers. The parties are working to try to finalize these negotiations in mid-2022.
In these complex negotiations, countries list each sector and subsector for which they are making commitments. Countries address each mode of supply: cross-border supply, consumption abroad, commercial presence, and the presence of natural persons. They make a separate commitment for market access, national treatment, and additional commitments for each mode. For African countries that are WTO Members like Ghana, their AfCFTA services offers should exceed their services commitments under the WTO General Agreement on Trade and Services. Ghana is also a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and is coordinating its services negotiating positions with other ECOWAS members. (ECOWAS has services provisions in sectoral areas such as postal and telecommunications, transport and communications, and tourism as well as a Protocol on the Free Movement of People.)
Beyond the services offers, AfCFTA countries are working on related issues such as the movement of businesspeople and the development of regulatory frameworks for these five sectors – in areas such as the recognition of professional qualifications, for example. Potential regulatory improvements such as simplified company registration procedures could benefit all companies, not only those from countries in the AfCFTA.
After the conclusion of negotiations on the five priority sectors, the parties to the AfCFTA may launch negotiations on additional services sectors such as distribution, education, healthcare, and construction.
For more information on opportunities in Ghana’s services sectors or developments related to services and the AfCFTA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +233(0)59-415-8954.