Kenya to push for better trade terms at upcoming World Trade Organisation forum

Posted on : Monday , 7th September 2015

 Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said the upcoming global conference to be held in Nairobi could have huge gains for the agricultural sector.

Among the issues that her ministry will be pushing in the 10th World Trade Organisation ministerial conference are slashing barriers to cross-border business, which past meetings have failed to resolve.
“Our,” Ms Mohamed said last week. Kenyan exports including horticulture to the European countries for instance are capped at specified levels, a restriction that Kenya could push to be revised in the negotiations.
Poor countries including Kenya have been lobbying for a bigger market access, especially for their agricultural produce, in the developed nations. However, input and export subsidies granted to farmers in the richer countries have meant that imports, mostly from emerging countries, are uncompetitive, effectively shutting the markets from external competition.
High production costs in the poor nations ranging from expensive energy to taxes have compounded the problem for prospective exports. The conference to be held over four days in December has been dubbed the Nairobi Round, coming two years after the last meeting in Indonesia.
Poor countries were able to secure modest gains from that round of negotiations, widely known as the Bali Package— named so after the city that hosted the conference. A deal was struck in Bali on cutting the red-tape and streamline customs, as a means of enhancing international trade, among other decisions.
Ms Mohamed said the conference would bring more than 6,000 delegates to Nairobi, and hopefully, mark the turnaround of the struggling toursim sector. Several delegates have confirmed bookings that stretch beyond the four-day conference that ends on December 18, to even after Christmas, she said.
Trade rules
WTO makes the rules that govern international trade while the biennial ministerial conference reviews the laws with the aim of enhancing cross-border business dealings. In the conference, Liberia is expected to formally join the WTO and its President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had confirmed attendance where she would sign on the protocol.
“This will be a massive event for the tourism sector after all the bad news,” Mohamed told the Standard. It would be a very good way to end 2015, Mohamed said, in reference to the major events that have defined the year including the three-day visit by US President Barack Obama in July, and the anticipated call by Pope Francis that is expected in November.
It is not possible to estimate how much the December conference could earn Kenya’s hospitality sector, but would be significant in the CS’ estimation. But going by the hotel rates of over Sh10,000 a night in most top tier facilities, the conference and the projected stay afterwards could go a long way.





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