Trade in Services
The SACU Agreement, 2002 recognises the need for the Customs Union to be aligned with current developments in international trade relations and further takes into account the results of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations on global trade liberalisation. In 2008 the SACU Council of Ministers agreed that new generation issues such as services, investment and Intellectual Property Rights should be incorporated into the SACU Agenda. This decision necessitated a review of the SACU Agreement 2002, to accommodate these issues.
Studies undertaken indicated compelling reasons to suggest that excluding trade in services from the scope of the SACU Agreement was, in the longer term, an unviable strategy with potentially significant negative effects on export competitiveness for SACU Member States. A recent study undertaken aimed at assessing the of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Free Trade Area (T-FTA) on SACU and its Member States, also revealed that SACU has a comparative advantage in trade and services and that services liberalisation would provide a balance of benefits in the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement negotiations for countries that had been identified as net losers under trade in goods. Liberalisation of Trade in Services would also facilitate trade and reduce logistics and transaction costs, resulting in welfare gains for SACU Countries.
The development of, and access to services will be very important to the region's vision of promoting value-addition and diversification in order to enhance regional industrialization; given that services constitute essential inputs to other products and services and, efficient services are catalytic to the expansion of value chains.