The launch – which kicked off preparations for the WTO Conference that will be hosted by Kenya from December 15 to 18 – took place simultaneously with a similar ceremony by the WTO General Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
Speaking at the launch, President Kenyatta said hosting the conference is not only an honour to the government and people of Kenya but also to the East African region and the entire African continent.
“This is the first time that the WTO Ministerial Conference is taking place on the African soil,” President Kenyatta noted.
He said hosting the conference in Kenya signals the commitment of WTO members and the International Community to integrate the African continent into the Multilateral Trading System (MTS).
He said integration of Africa into the MTS complements regional and continental efforts towards increased intra-Africa trade.
“This is the way to go for us as a continent to realize the dream of the Continent Free Trade Area,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State expressed optimism that the conference will provide an opportunity for WTO members to restore confidence to the Multilateral Trading System.
“We should use this Conference to agree on a work programme that can guide members to conclude the Doha Round of trade talks and deliver development as promised in the Doha Declaration of 2001.”
He assured the National Preparatory Committee for the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference of the Government’s full support to make the conference successful and memorable.
To Kenyans, President Kenyatta said the conference is an opportunity to demonstrate the country’s hospitality to guests from all corners of the world.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed thanked President Kenyatta for his efforts which ensured Kenya was selected as the first African country to host the WTO Ministerial Conference.
“It is a further manifestation of your commitment to promote conference tourism and investment in Kenya,” the CS said.
She observed that the hosting of the Conference in Nairobi is a sign of confidence in Kenya and in Africa, adding: “It is also a source of pride to all of us.”
The launch was attended by Attorney General Githu Muigai, Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Information, Communication and Technology), Adan Mohamed (Industrialization and Enterprises Development) and James Macharia (Health) among other senior government officials and stakeholders.