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Swaziland improves services participation in world markets

image Launch: Ministry of Commerce Acting PS Nkululeko Dlamini, EU Ambassador Nicola Bellomo and Minister of Commerce Jabulani Mabuza at the launch.

GOVERNMENT is currently addressing the dismal performance in services trade to augment its participation in world trade in services.

GOVERNMENT is currently addressing the dismal performance in services trade to augment its participation in world trade in services.

This has been made possible through the European Union’s (EU) E60 million 11th EDF regional Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Trade Facility programme.

Speaking during the launch of the consultations on the development of trade in services strategy for the country, EU Ambassador Nicola Bellomo said the EU recognises the importance of services in the economic growth and development of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) partner states.

The launch was held yesterday at Mountain Inn Hotel in Mbabane. 

importance

He said the services economy has over the years gained importance, contributing a growing share to gross domestic product and employment.

However, he said most ACP countries, including the country, have not fully exploited their potential in the area of services.

“This is seen in the inherent weaknesses arising from low levels of development, high economic growth vulnerability due to external economic and natural shocks, as well as weak institutional, regulatory and productive structures. 

Given such inherent constraints, promoting economic growth and development, particulary in service delivery remains a formidable challenge,” he said.

In proportional terms, emerging economies accounted for about 30 per cent share of global services exports in 2015, while ACP states only accounted for about three per cent share of global services exports.

Bellomo said this was a matter of great concern.

“This dismal performance in services trade calls for urgent measures to enable ACP states to increase their participation in world trade in services. Concentred efforts should be taken to address the supply-side constraints, particularly in those services where ACP states have a comparative advantage,” he said.

In the same vein, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Jabulani Mabuza said trade in services remains the most important sector in contributing to the economy, both in terms of GDP and employment creation.

services

However, he said the share of services in total exports have been decreasing over the past few years due to a number of challenges, ranging from failure to penetrate export markets, barriers imposed by trading partners and uncompetitive service markets, amongst others.

The share of services in total exports has been declining from 17 per cent in 2009 to 11 per cent in 2013.

“It is this sluggish growth and the decline in the services sector development that has prompted government to launch an initiative aimed at developing a national trade in services strategy with action plans that will address the challenges,” he said.

The minister said he strongly believed that the development of the strategy, together with specific sectors action plans, will assist in providing a detailed analysis of services sectors with potential to grow and become export oriented.

He said the strategy could also assist the country to make informed decisions during the trade in services negotiation process at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels that seeks to liberalise trade in services.

strategy

“The liberalisation of trade services informed by a properly developed trade in services strategy will lead to improved consumer welfare due to increased price and quality competition, better choice of supply and access to better quality for consumers of those services, both at household and firm levels,” said Mabuza.

The launch of the consultations on the development of trade in services strategy for the country was attended by the business community, government departments and consumer representatives.

Government has roped in trade and development experts, Ramesh Chaitoo and Michelle Hustler. Consultations by the experts will run from tomorrow until April 13. There will also be focus group meetings with services firms and professionals from tourism, ICT, creative industries, professional and construction services as well as transport. 

 

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