Ethiopia moves towards liberalization of trade in services
Trade in Services plays a key role in the economic growth and development of a country. Services directly support production but also value chains and create jobs and other economic and non-economic opportunities.
For Ethiopia, there exist numerous strategic services namely transport (air transport where Ethiopia Airlines remains a leader when it comes to air connectivity), arts, sports & recreational services. Others are financial, tourism and energy-related services.
Over the years, Ethiopia has been undergoing crucial economic reforms in line with regional and international developments. The goal is to gradually yet effectively liberalize the economy, enhance competitiveness in production and export of goods and services.
Dr Chris Onyango, Director of Trade and Customs in COMESA, says it is in such context that COMESA undertakes to provide technical assistance and capacity building in services to Member States to facilitate the negotiations.
Addressing the Ethiopian services negotiators and stakeholders attending the COMESA Training Workshop on Trade in Services in Addis Ababa, he said this will facilitate speeding up the preparation of the country’s services offer. It will enable the country to participate fully, not just in the COMESA regional integration, but also in the broad Continental and multilateral contexts.
“This is also in response to the expression of great interest and need demonstrated by the Ministry of Trade, Ethiopia, to speed up the stakeholder engagement process as Ethiopia finalizes its services offer in preparation for its submission,” he said.
At the training, the officials received practical guidance on how to prepare a Services Offer under the World Trade Organization, COMESA, and the AfCFTA, taking into account the special circumstances of the country. Going forward, the trained officials are expected develop legal and institutional frameworks, defending the country’s interests and positions with the knowledge acquired, on how to mainstream global and regional frameworks on trade in services into national development plans for easier implementation of agreed commitments.
Currently, negotiations on trade in services liberalization programme in COMESA, the AfCFTA and WTO levels are still ongoing. These form an integral part of Ethiopia’s national development and by extension regional economic integration. Thus, as a member of COMESA and the other regional economic communities, Ethiopia is expected to play an active role in these negotiations and make specific commitments in various services sector.
The training was funded by the 11th European Development Fund.