EDITORIAL: Trade talks a chance to push for Africa’s gains - Daily Nation

Trade talks a chance to push for Africa’s gains

Tuesday December 15 2015

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The 10th World Trade Organisation ministerial conference that opens in Nairobi on Tuesday is a big honour to Kenya, which is the first African country to host this important gathering.

The Cabinet secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ms Amina Mohammed, who will chair the opening session, is hopeful that Africa’s expectations will be met.

The meeting that brings together about 7,000 delegates will end on Friday.

The action will be mainly at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Hopefully, the inconvenience suffered by Nairobi residents in terms of traffic congestion as some key roads in the city centre are sealed off, will, in the end be worthwhile.

Trade ministers and representatives of international NGOs, human rights activists, global trade bodies, and economists are attending the conference.

All the 162 WTO member countries are represented.

What is important as the talks begin is whether Africa’s agenda will be delivered.

It is important for African countries to speak with a united voice as this will determine whether or not they will derive any tangible economic benefits from the conference.

Some contentious issues to be discussed include the demand to remove subsidies by the developed countries to create a level playing field in global trade for the least developed nations.

Kenya and other African countries are hoping that the Trade Facilitation Agreement concluded at the ministerial meeting in Bali in 2013 will be fully ratified in Nairobi.

So far, 57 members have endorsed the pact, but it will only become operational when two thirds of the member countries agree to the deal.

The ministers have also tabled requests for the withdrawal of customs duties on electronic systems among member countries to ease regional trade.

This meeting is a vital step towards reclaiming Nairobi’s status as the regional hub for major international conferences.