SADC looks to open trade in construction professional services

Botswana and the other members of SADC are in a process of trying to negotiate opening up the fields of construction and related professional services. This is an interesting one for Botswana, given the coming into effect of the numerous acts controlling the development professions in Botswana. A general background link is in a sponsored article here. Or should we keep blocking the trade routes inside Africa? What do BIDP landscape architects think? What do BIDP interior designers think? What do urban planners think?

The government is seeking feedback from parastatal and private entities to advise their prefernces in respect of these proposals. We shall be attaching samples of the documents arising. We understand that the principle of the negotiations is that, firstly, Botswana is already bound by certaind World Trade Organisation/GATS agreements, and in principle, the SADC proposals should not be more restrictive than these, while in principle SADC negotiations would like the proposals to be more liberal.

The most specific items relating to for instance architectural construction professional services are in a larger context (ie "horizontal commitments"). The documents are then divided into four modes of supply, covering 1-cross border (ie can a Botswana architect carry out architectural services in all othe SADC countries), 2-consumption abroad (ie a Tourist visits Botswana and uses services in Botswana), 3-commercial presence (ie can a firm in any SADC country operate (clarification needed) a franchise/subsidiary/branch in Botswana), 4-natural persons (ie what rules apply to an architect from any SADC country moving to Botswana and entering employment).

Each mode of supply is then categorised in terms of "none" (ie no, nil, zero restrictions), "unbound (ie restricted) or with notes of particular retrictions. A Mauritian proposal as sample is available here. Check "general Construction Work for Buildings" on page 8 to get a feel of how the document works.

Wednesday meeting 17th May with Department of Trade participating concluded that for architects, quantity surveyors and engineers, the Botswana offer could be 1) Unbounded, 2) None, 3) None, 4) Unbounded except as indicated in the horizontal section for limitations on market access, with the same for national treatment except that 3) would be 'the qualifications of foreign professionals employed by the company should be recognised by the relevant statutory regulatory body'

If you need more information or have a comment, please inform the executive secretary on BIDP needs to inform the convenors and stakeholders of the preferences of its members soon in order they may advise the negotiators. The coming international negotiations start in Johannesburg on 31st May.

We have received a member comment from Ulf Soderstrom here.

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