COMMUNIQUE OF THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTOR CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON TRADE IN SERVICES CONVENED BY THE NIGERIAN OFFICE FOR TRADE NEGOTIATIONS (NOTN) 13th -24th FEBRUARY 2020 THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CRITICAL AND RELEVANT PRIVATE SECTOR STAKEHOLDERS ON TRADE IN SERVICES AND THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CRITICAL AND RELEVANT PUBLIC STAKEHOLDERS ON TRADE IN SERVICES Participated in the Private and Public Sectoral Consultative Meetings on Trade in Service held between the 13 to 24 February 2020 in Abuja. The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations recognizing that stakeholders' buy-in through an inclusive consultative process comprising both the public sector and private sector experts will enrich the quality of discourse, credibility of the process and production of a schedule of commitment on trade in services, which represents the aspirations of Nigerians, convened a series of consultative meetings spanning a period of two weeks, 1. THE STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENTS FOCUSED ON: 1.1 The priority service sector areas proposed for liberalization namely: professional business services, financial services, transport services, tourism and communication services. 1.2 The discussions were centered on the Draft Schedule of Specific Commitment provided by NOTN to all the participants. Deliberations were preceded by a brief training covering background and status of negotiations in ECOWAS and AfCFTA; explanation of trade terminologies such as horizontal commitments, limitations on market access, limitations on national treatment, schedule of specific commitments, bound, unbound and none etc. 2. THE STAKEHOLDERS NOTE WITH SATISFACTION: 2.1 The inclusive consultative approach adopted by the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation whereby private sector service providers and public sector officials together participate in developing the schedule of commitments noting, in particular, that the operationalization of the services policies rests on the private sector and the services under negotiation excludes services provided by governments. 2.2 The plan of the Acting Chief Trade Negotiator/Director General of NOTN to collapse all the consultation fora into one cohesive Forum which will facilitate collaboration and coordination. 2.3 The well-articulated clarifications from NOTN officials on certain questions and issues raised at the various meetings. 2.4 The stakeholders are appreciative of NOTN's deliberate initiative and action to ensure an inclusive and consultative process in the preparation of the schedule of specific commitment on trade in services. 3. THE STAKEHOLDERS STRESS THAT: 3.1 It is important for Government to develop and implement policies particularly on infrastructure so that Nigeria can optimize the benefits of the regional and continental free trade agreements and to this end, the role of government collaborative approach is recommended. 3.2 Trade negotiators for Nigeria should be well armed with adequate knowledge and skills and awareness of the geopolitics that comes into play in trade negotiations with partners. These essential skills will ensure successful negotiations that aids economic development and market dominance for Nigeria. 4. THE STAKEHOLDERS NOTED AND DISCUSSED THE: 4.1 The incisive interventions and positions of experts in the financial, transport, medical, tourism, labour, engineering and ICT services industry. 4.2 Memorandum submitted by the Nigerian Bar Association which articulated the position of the legal services industry. 5. THE STAKEHOLDERS: 5.1 Acknowledge that, it is in the interest of Nigeria to play a prominent role in the ongoing negotiations at both regional and continental levels. 5.2 Confirm that following the open and inclusive meetings and deliberations on the Draft Schedule of Specific Commitments by the Private and Public Sectors Consultative Forum on Trade in Services, the Schedule was amended (as enclosed) to reflect the discussions and positions of industry stakeholders. 5.3 Recognize that the public acceptance and credibility of the outcome of the consultations depends greatly on the professionalism, attitude and skills of negotiators and robust preparations. 5.4 Express their deep appreciation for the considerable efforts made by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for his genuine democratic culture and attitude, by directing the sensitization and consultations; as well as acknowledge the private sector experts in their daily efforts towards the level of preparedness that will transform our participation in the respective trade agreements to a profitable venture for Nigeria and its people. 5.5 Acknowledge and appreciate the enthusiasm and technical competence of the Acting Chief Trade Negotiator/Director General of NOTN and his team; and through him convey the satisfaction and appreciation of the Forum to the Honorable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment. DONE IN ABUJA, NIGERIA THIS TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF FEBRUARY, TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY. IN WITNESS WHEREOF THE PARTICIPANTS HAVE SIGNED THIS COMMUNIQUE.