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Trade in Services Policy in Africa, New Work by the WTO and World Bank

Services are often overlooked in trade negotiations, partly because they are amorphous in character, unlike goods. Yet Africa is increasingly exporting its services within the continent and globally. Examples are in music (look at the global rage for SA’s Amapiano or Nigerian Afrobeat); film and video, business services, gig work (see below), call centres, etc, etc. The joint World Bank and WTO surveys cover the policies and regulations applied by 54 African economies to the supply of different services into their markets through various modes of supply. It is the first time that information on the services trade policies of these economies has been simultaneously brought together. The surveys cover various aspects of measures affecting trade in services, such as market access, operations, competition, licensing requirements and procedures, regulatory transparency, cross-border data transfer and data localisation issues. Trade policies in 34 services subsectors are examined, representing approximately two-thirds of the service economy in these countries.

The joint World Bank/WTO Services Trade Restrictions Indices (STRI) quantify the level of restrictiveness of these countries’ services trade policies based on the regulatory information revealed in the surveys. It is calculated for 34 subsectors and relevant modes of supply. The surveys and the STRIs are available through the Services Trade Policy Database, which can be accessed here.


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Alastair Tempest

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