Trade and Industry

Saturday, 15 June 2002

Energy Services, WTO GATS Negotiations and Energy Market Regulation and Liberalisation in South Africa

  • Year: 2002
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Author(s): Anton Eberhard
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

This paper is essentially a scoping exercise to explore the type of issues that might arise for South Africa in WTO energy service negotiations. The background to the current round of negotiations in energy services is explained, including the uncertainties that remain in classifying energy services.

The extent and diversity of the energy industry (coal, oil, gas, electricity, nuclear and renewable energy) is described in order to develop an understanding of the issues that will arise around trade in energy services in South Africa or by South African companies. Current and potential energy service exports are mapped. The regulatory framework and liberalisation process in each energy sector is also described.

While there are some market access issues in the petroleum industry, the main questions will arise in the electricity sector. This is the fastest growing area for exports of South African energy services. It is also the sector that faces the most fundamental market restructuring and liberalisation.

South Africa might wish to make a number of requests for the removal of limitations on market access and national treatment in services related to electricity transmission and distribution, in marketing and supply, facilities management and other related services including installation, repair and maintenance. It may also wish to make additional requests in terms of more transparent and justiciable regulatory systems that would not disadvantage South African companies. The immediate potential market is Africa, but it is feasible for some of South Africa's energy service companies to make headway in other emerging markets.

With regard to the liberalization of South Africa's electricity market, the creation of a power exchange and electricity trading market would create new opportunities for foreign providers of energy services. A new regulatory framework would need to be put in place. Transmission, distribution and supply for small consumers are likely to remain monopolies until significant progress has been made towards universal access to electricity.

The paper provides an introduction to the South African energy sector for those involved in trade issues, and an introduction to WTO trade negotiation opportunities for those involved in energy services.