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Lusaka, Monday 3rd September 2018:  The Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) in collaboration with COMESA Secretariat organised a one-week Regional Training Workshop on Statistics of International Trade in Services (SITS) in Harare, Zimbabwe on 27 – 31 August 2018.  The one-week training workshop that was facilitated by Dr. Wilson Phiri, Senior Economist from Bank of Zambia and Dr. Kenneth Egesa, Director Statistics Department, Bank of Uganda was attended by delegates from MEFMI Member States of Botswana, eSwatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the host Zimbabwe.

Due to their complexity, SITS do not enjoy the same comprehensive coverage as merchandise trade statistics, which have long established data collection systems. The weakness of services data makes it difficult to analyse the developments in the region on service sector integration and liberalization despite the growing recognition of services as an avenue for diversification and structural transformation.

It is against this background that COMESA and MEFMI, through a joint collaboration, came up with the initiative to develop regional guidelines to support harmonized compilation and reporting of these statistics that are based on the four (4) modes of services supply as  prescribed by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Extended Balance of Payments Services classification (EBOPS), Foreign Affiliates Trade in Services (FATS), and most importantly how to compile partner country data.

The objectives of the workshop were to train countries in international best practices in compiling Trade in Services statistics and also, to validate the developed regional handbook on trade in services that is aimed at strengthening the capacity of compilers of SITS in the region.

The MEFMI-COMESA collaboration on production of a regional trade in services statistical handbook is one step in improving the region’s capacity in the compilation of STIS.  The handbook will serve as a launch pad for national roadmaps that seek to move current country compilation practices towards the recommendations of the Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services.