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Amina lobbies trade ministers ahead of WTO conference

Friday October 23 2015

Amina Mohamed is lobbying trade ministers in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group to unite on the key trade issues.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. Ms Mohamed is lobbying trade ministers in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group to unite on the key trade issues ahead of the WTO conference slated for December. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

LILIAN OCHIENG'
By LILIAN OCHIENG'
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Kenya has called for special consideration on matters regarding multilateral trading systems and key economic growth indicators in the region ahead of the World Trade Organisation conference in Nairobi.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is lobbying trade ministers in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group to unite on the key trade issues.

Speaking in Brussels during a meeting with ACP ministers for trade, Ms Mohamed said the 79 countries should join hands in addressing issues that will increase trade within the continent.

“We need to see concrete proposals on the table in the immediate future,” said the Cabinet Secretary in a statement on Friday, “countries in these regions must give the right political signal to negotiators in Geneva, so that the outcomes in Nairobi can be meaningful — for the multilateral trading system and development of economic growth.”

LEVEL TRADING FIELD

Despite its promise to level the trading field, critics have accused the WTO of passing policies that favour developed countries.

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Ms Mohamed spoke a week after Foreign Affairs and International Trade PS Karanja Kibicho said the government is looking forward to a cut of domestic subsidies in agriculture in the developed countries. This will help Kenya’s exports access the lucrative overseas markets.

Subsidies of crops such as maize will be key at the WTO. Kenya is also looking at addressing issues on non-tariff barriers such as the insistence on age of goods as well as safety of agricultural products which poor countries are unable to meet.

Kenya is among 48 countries in Sub Sahara Africa who are members of the ACP group. Together, the countries are now united in plotting how to lift agreements that limit how far poor countries can trade globally.

WTO CONFERENCE

About 4,000 delegates from 162 countries are expected in Nairobi at the 10th WTO conference in December to discuss how to resolve trade barriers.

WTO officially has five functions of administering trade agreements, acting as a forum for trade negotiations, monitoring national trade policies, providing technical assistance to developing countries and acting as a link with other international organisations.

It will be the first time such a conference has been held in Africa. It is also a time when Africa is pushing for better trading policies so they can access global markets.

“A strong WTO provides the insurance policy that we need to engage in global trade under conditions of stability, predictability and transparency. It is therefore important that we step up our engagement and play our role in shaping its rules, so that we can continue to benefit from trade under increasingly fairer conditions,” said Amina Mohamed.