SADC Capacity Building For Trade In Services Statistics

SADC Secretariat, under the EU-supported Regional Economic Integration Support (REIS) programme, held the first Regional Training Workshop on Trade in Statistics in Gaborone, Botswana on 28-31 January 2014.

The objective of the workshop was to train the stakeholders on the collection and compilation of trade in services statistics based on the Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services (MSITS) 2010. This was jointly developed by the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Eurostat*, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD,) United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO ) and World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO Secretariat is the coordinator of the Task Force on Statistics of International Trade in Services.

The workshop marked a significant milestone for trade in services negotiators as lack of statistics in the areas of services trade is a major hindrance to informed decision making in the liberalisation process of services trade.

The workshop called noted a need to balance the need by trade in services negotiators for detailed information, with that of the statisticians’ capacity to collect such data systematically from commercial enterprises and individuals in the development of the statistical tool on trade in services.

This training comes at a critical time when SADC Member States are busy with negotiations on trade in services at the regional level with the European Union (EU) under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), as well as at the multilateral level at the WTO. Besides training, participants shared their trade in services data compilation practices and gaps and noted that owing to their capacity challenges, trade in services remains largely under-reported.

The participants found the workshop to be useful and embraced the development of a common approach to the collection and compilation of statistics on trade in services in the SADC Region. This will entail the formulation of templates that take into account the specificities of the region by tailor-making MSITS 2010 which provides a framework for internationally comparable statistical information on the international supply of services.

As a follow up to the workshop, the REIS programme will continue supporting SADC Member States in improving the availability and quality of trade in services data in the region.  It is expected that the data, once collected and compiled, will be widely disseminated for use by not only the negotiators, but also the private sector and researchers to ascertain the benefits accrued from the liberalisation of services trade.

The workshop was attended by over seventy (70) participants, namely, representatives from Member States’ national statistics offices, central/ reserve banks and the SADC Trade in Services Focal Points.

It was facilitated by the World Trade Organization WTO United Nations UN and SADC Secretariats.

At the SADC Secretariat, this was a concerted effort between trade officials under the Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) Directorate and the Statistics Unit under the Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilisation (PPRM) Directorate.

* Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide statistical information to the institutions of the European Union (EU) and to promote the harmonisation of statistical methods across its member states and candidates for accession as well as EFTA countries. The organisations in the different countries which actively cooperate with Eurostat are summarised under the concept of the European Statistical System.

Published On: January 28, 2014|