BRUSSELS, Belgium, Oct 19 – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has urged African countries to join hands in pushing for successful and favorable outcomes at the WTO Ministerial Conference – dubbed MC10 – that will be held in Nairobi in December.
At the same time, the Cabinet Secretary said the WTO Conference in Nairobi, the first in the African continent, is an historic opportunity for Africa to infuse the African perspective in shaping the future of international trade through a fully functioning multilateral trading system.
Addressing an informal meeting of African Union Trade Ministers in Brussels, Monday, CS said conversations are still continuing in negotiating bodies in Geneva with a focus on those elements that can become part of a possible package of deliverables for Nairobi MC10.
Noting that the exact content of the package is yet to be determined, the CS said the contours of deliverables were beginning to emerge and called on African countries to be proactive, decisive and smarter in the ongoing WTO negotiations.
Acknowledging that difficulties in progressing negotiations on key issues remain, Amb. Amina Mohamed stressed the need for Africa to have a unified voice on issues of interest to the continent.
“We have to be coherent as a region and closely coordinate with our delegations in Geneva and with each other in our capitals. For Nairobi to be a success, we – as Africa – have to be heard. We therefore have to speak as one united Africa,” said the CS.
Amb. Amina Mohamed called on African countries to work together towards an outcome that has a strong developmental component for the continent adding that a successful outcome should include a Nairobi work programme that is realistic, balanced and that also modernizes the WTO negotiating agenda.
“The work programme would need to include agriculture, comprising an outcome on cotton; an understanding on food security; services; NAMA; trade and environment; fisheries subsidies; an expanded information technology agreement and a package for LDCs,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Amb. Amina Mohamed further stressed the importance of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and urged African countries to work together to ensure it comes into force in Nairobi during MC10.
Noting that MC10 was only a few weeks away, Amb. Amina Mohamed stressed that parties’ to the WTO negotiations can no longer afford to keep on discussing issues in general terms.
“It is time to begin talking concretely about the details of a possible outcome through text-based negotiations. Africa should collectively front proposals which are doable, pragmatic and manageable,” said Amb. Amina Mohamed.
Saying that success in Nairobi is success for Africa, the Cabinet Secretary said the WTO Conference offers a unique opportunity for Africa to realize the development goals that the continent has been seeking for more than a decade.
“Being the region with the highest number of LDC Members and comprised mostly of developing countries, we should think about how the WTO would best function in satisfying the developmental needs of our people,” said the CS.
“We need to start thinking about how we could use the WTO as a platform to further integrate our economies to international trade and reap its benefits,” added Amb. Amina Mohamed.