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SADC Gears Up for AfCFTA

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) recently held a retreat in Centurion, South Africa for member states’ focal points for trade in services. This strategic meeting aimed to prepare the region’s services sector to capitalize on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Representatives from member state trade ministries, private sector institutions, and development partners participated in the retreat. A key objective was to develop a 15-year Regional Strategy on Trade in Services alongside a 5-year Action Plan.

Discussions focused on understanding current trends, opportunities, and challenges in regional trade in services. A recent study on enhancing SADC’s service sector competitiveness within AfCFTA informed these discussions.

The study revealed that while some SADC members boast competitive service sectors compared to the rest of Africa, the region primarily exports travel and transport services. This signifies a significant untapped potential in areas like ICT, finance, and professional services.

To fully benefit from AfCFTA, the retreat identified diversification as crucial. Member states were encouraged to expand their service exports beyond traditional sectors and focus on modern ones like ICT, finance, and construction.

This diversification strategy requires improvements to the overall business environment. This includes removing trade barriers, ensuring clear and cooperative regulations, and fostering innovation and skills mobility. 

Additionally, aligning with the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 is essential. This entails increased investment in infrastructure, enhanced ICT adoption, and maintaining stable economic policies.

Additional source: SADC Secretariat

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