African Trade ministers Monday informally converged in Nairobi to prepare for the 10th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference slated for December.
Speaking at the meeting at a Nairobi hotel, Foreign affairs secretary Amina Mohamed said the informal meeting of African trade ministers is set to brainstorm on the issues on the table for the ministerial conference.
Some of the issues on the table according to Ms Mohamed include agriculture, market access, industrial growth and public health among others.
The (WTO) ministerial conference, is expected to bring together over 6000 participants to discuss issues of concern in Africa’s trade relations.
“I believe you will all readily agree with me that our common objective is to turn the Nairobi Ministerial Conference into a forum for harvesting specific outcomes particularly with respect to the coming into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and an agreement on a balanced and ambitious Post-Bali Work Programme,” said Ms Mohamed.
She said it is important that African countries practice value addition on their raw materials before export.
“We want to be able to add value on goods in our country so that we do not export jobs to other countries, we do not want to open up our markets so much and reduce chances of us industrializing,” Ms Mohammed said.
Speaking at the same meeting the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi called on African governments to slow down on commodity exports.
“Slowing down on commodity exports gives you pressure to think of areas- other than commodities and raw materials being exported to china- as a leaver for growth. It allows the capacity to start producing “made in Africa and made in Kenya.” Mr Kituyi said.
Dr Kituyi also called on the governments to think around what needs to be done right to ensure that “we don’t just import products made in china, some components can be made locally,” he said.
Ms Mohammed also called upon Africa to work together to ensure the continent achieves, the threshold of two thirds of the total number of Acceptances required for the Trade Facilitation Agreements to enter into force by end of November this year.
“It is estimated that Trade Facilitation Agreements will increase global GDP by One Trillion US Dollars annually and generate 21 million jobs,” she said.