This four-day regional training workshop on “Enhancing Capacities for Trade in Services Policymaking and Negotiations” was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The workshop created awareness among stakeholders understanding on the collection and use of services trade statistics; institutional mechanisms for services-related decision-making; and improving competitiveness in the services sector.
Services and services trade can play a central role in promoting sustainable development, supporting inclusive economic growth, and reducing poverty in modern economies. With respect to trade policy and related negotiations, services have become an increasingly visible feature of discussions – domestically, regionally, as well as at the bilateral and multilateral levels.
However, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Low-Income Countries (LICs), and Lower-Middle Income Countries (LMICs) continue to face challenges in catalysing and sustaining progress across this diverse range of economic activities. These include not having access to reliable services trade data on which to base analysis and decision-making; inadequate skills for processing and analysing existing services trade data to underpin conclusions; ineffective interactions between stakeholders to support decision-making – within government, and between government and the private sector, civil society, and other non-state actors; and limited understanding of the pathways through which services competitiveness can be enhanced.
In recognizing the extent to which these foundational challenges inhibit the progress of LDCs, LICs and LMICs in strengthening their services sectors, ILEAP, CUTS International Geneva and the University of Sussex’s CARIS have partnered, with support from the UK Trade Advocacy Fund (TAF), to undertake a series of interventions that seek to contribute to the increased and more effective participation of LDCs, LICs, LMICs and RECs in multilateral, regional and bilateral services trade negotiations.
This workshop is a cornerstone in the implementation of this initiative, and will drew on a range of studies and toolkits developed to enhance stakeholders’ understanding on the collection and use of services trade statistics; institutional mechanisms for services-related decision-making; and improving competitiveness in the services sector. Participants included services negotiators, policy-makers and other non-state actors from the private sector and civil society within the SAARC region.