Regional Negotiations among SADC Member States
The SADC trade in services programme was launched in Maseru, Lesotho in 2000. In 2001, Ministers of Trade agreed on six sectors (communication, construction, energy related, financial services, tourism and transport services) to be a priority for the SADC services programme. The Protocol on Trade in Services was signed by the Heads of States/Governments in August 2012, in Maputo Mozambique. It is yet to enter into force as it required deposit of instrument of ratification by at least two-third (equivalent to 11) of the Member States. As of June 2021, 10 Member States had deposited their Instruments namely Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and South Africa. The remaining Member States i.e. Angola, Comoros, DRC, Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania are expected to finalize their national ratification processes in due course and subsequently deposit their instrument of ratification with Secretariat.
The Protocol contains general obligations on Member States, such as on transparency, granting of most favourite nation status, and domestic regulation, but does not by itself result for any market access for SADC service suppliers. Instead, it provides a framework for progressive removal of barriers to trade in services in successiful rounds of negotiations. The 1st Round of Negotiations covers the six priority sectors (communication services, construction services, energy-related services, financial services, tourism services and transport services). The 1st Round was launched in April 2012 and it was concluded in 2019. The results of the 1st Round comprise of Member States List of Commitments in the six sectors and services Annexes namely Annex on Substantial Business Operations, Annex on Movement of Natural Person (Mode 4), Annex on Interim Arrangements relating to Commitments on Subsidies, Annex on Financial Services, Annex on Tourism Services, Annex on Telecommunication Services; and Annex on Postal and Courier Services.
The 2nd Round of Negotiations is due to begin in 2021, following the adoption of the Negotiating and Scheduling Guidelines for second Round Negotiations by the Committee of Ministers of Trade in July 2021. it will cover negotiations on specific commitments in all the sectors not prioritized in the 1st Round namely business, distribution, education; environmental; health; recreational, cultural and sporting services; and other services not included elsewhere. Lastly, it will cover any unfinished work from first round as well as consider the “built-in agenda” issues of the Protocol namely: domestic regulation (Article 6); mutual recognition (Article 7); subsidies (Article 11); and trade and investment promotion (Article 18).