Dramatic final day as WTO talks conclude

December 18, 2015
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The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are characterized by rapidly growing economies and increasing international influence/file
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are characterized by rapidly growing economies and increasing international influence/file
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18 – The Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) approached a tumultuous conclusion on Friday with accusations that the BRICS countries were delaying the curtain call.

“WTO MC10 Nairobi deal is almost closed but a few BRICS countries blocking it over agricultural agenda,” sources at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre said without getting into the details.

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are characterized by rapidly growing economies and increasing international influence.

The formal closing of the conference had to be pushed from 12pm to 7pm.

“MC10 (tenth Ministerial Conference) closing session-19:00 hours, Friday 18 December 2015. Tsavo 2,” screens within KICC indicated.

Crucial discussions especially on agriculture which included export competition, stockholding and agricultural subsidies continue to take the center stage between the developing countries and the classified rich ones.

“Extending the talks and the lack of concrete agreements so far reflects business as normal at the WTO, a stalemate caused by the unwillingness of rich countries to negotiate in good faith,” ActionAid USA Executive Director Marie Clarke lamented on Friday, ““Fourteen years later, rich countries led by the US are dragging their feet and trying to delay serious negotiations.”

For example India has had issues on farm subsidies by countries like the US and China, terming it as huge trade distortion as it has had adverse impact on millions of resource poor and subsistence farmers in developing countries.

It has also been demanding on a permanent solution that will entitle poor countries to public stockholdings of foodgrains, and safeguards to protect them from sudden import surges.

Kenya’s head of delegation Karanja Kibichu on Wednesday evening maintained that the three issues remained ‘sensitive’ despite the limited time.

“Members are encouraged by the ongoing negations so far between delegations and this reflects the positive spirit of flexibility which is the cornerstone of the WTO,” Kibicho expressed his optimism.

Even as negotiators remain closed door, the WTO has however managed to conclude on a landmark deal on the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) which had taken at 18 years to conclude.

All eyes are keen on what the negotiators will hand over to the Ministers at the end of the of the day for formal approval and as hoped for, a Nairobi Declaration.

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