Services Policy Review
Services Policy Review (SPR) is the ‘systematic review’ conducted on the trade policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks components or aspects of the service sector. The objective of such a review is to enhance the ability to harness the benefits to be derived from the services sector and international services trade.
A major aspect of ECOWAS economic transformation process remains the consolidation of its trade in services sector. In view of this, in July 2016, the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – with financial support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – launched the ECOWAS Services Policy Review (SPR), towards the development of a coherent and comprehensive strategic framework for services, in line with the objective stated in Article 3 of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty.
The objectives of the ECOWAS SPR are to review the trade policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks that characterize the region’s services sector – in order to better harness the development benefits of the services sector and of international trade in services in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
ECOWAS Member States initiated the process and suggested 12 services sectors/subsectors to form the focus of the SPR that are of particular interest to the region:
- Banking and Other Financial Services;
- All Insurance Services;
- Telecommunications Services;
- Tourism Services;
- Education Services;
- Road Transport Services;
- Air Transport Services;
- Construction and Related Engineering Services;
- Energy Services;
- Accounting Services;
- Legal Services;
- Architectural Services; and
- Cultural Services.
These sectors of the SPR are of special interest to the region and possess the potential to significantly contribute to the future growth and development of ECOWAS Member States’ economies.
Three consultants were recruited in January 2017 and have produced drafts which were presented to ECOWAS Member States in October 2018. The Review included policy analysis and research including restrictions to the selected services sectors in Member States, as well as multi-stakeholder meetings at the national and regional levels for fact-finding, awareness-raising and consensus-building.
The Draft ECOWAS SPR offers policy recommendations for the overall services sector of the region and for the specific sectors chosen. The recommendations focus on how the region can more effectively expand its services sector, creating jobs and helping to raise living standards. Proposed recommendations include:
- the development of an ECOWAS Trade in Services Portal and
- the formulation of an ECOWAS Trade in Services Market Blueprint 2030.
Once completed, UNCTAD has offered to assist the region in the implementation of the policy recommendations presented in the Review.