, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – The Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has officially kicked off in Nairobi with all eyes keen on the outcome, come Friday this week.
The Nairobi meeting remains crucial for the future and strength of the global trade body with hopes that the 162 member countries will negotiate and strike trade balances and allow fair trade.
A number of delegates who spoke to Capital FM Business remained optimistic that there will be key agreements that will allow the full exploitation of the opportunities that lies within WTO.
A delegate from the United States and who is in Kenya for the first time is looking forward to an outcome that will set a clear path on the way forward of WTO.
“My expectation is that there will be thorough discussion of the issues and trying to find consensus; and I think what we can do is really think how the WTO moves forward,” she said.
This is the first time the WTO meeting is taking place on African soil and for Amug from Indonesia, it is also his first time in Africa.
“I am happy to be in Kenya and as a delegate I hope that this conference will produce meaningful outcome that will fulfil the aspirations of every nation,” he says smiling. “I believe what we had in Bali (Indonesia meeting in 2013), was a successful conference but I believe as long as we have the spirit of togetherness, transparency and of course honesty, I think all the obstacles can be overcome.”
Some of the pending issues include having major reforms in agriculture, especially on reduction in subsidies and tariff provided by developed countries, Least Developed Countries (LDC) special treatments, Trade Facilitation Agreements as well Information Technology Agreement (ITA).
For Keli Kiilu Vice Chairman, East Africa Business Council, the only solution of possible positive results in Nairobi meeting is to for all the members to negotiate as equal partners and not as most developed or least developed.
He argues that since the first negotiations in Doha, Qatar in 2001, a lot of the supposed Least Developed Countries’ economies have grown and it may be fair to approach trading issues from that perspective.
“The so-called Least Developed Countries should not be supported from a ‘poor country’ point-of-view. For example, traditionally agriculture which is a key issue in WTO, was preserved to mean that they (developed countries) get the raw materials, they go and add value through processing and send back to us. But we are saying ‘wait a minute’. We have enough capacity to add value. So we must have what we call trade facilitation,” Kiilu says in an interview.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who spoke while officially opening the session noted that hosting the WTO in Kenya for the first time is enough to show that Africa has come of age to be partners in the global trade.
“Africa and least developed countries in the world expect the WTO to deliver equitable growth for all nations,” President Kenyatta said, optimistic of tangible outcome by Friday.
Apart from agreements, the Nairobi WTO meeting is also key as two countries will be joining, including Liberia and Afghanistan
The organisation is also celebrating 20 years of existence and if there will be crucial agreements, Nairobi will remain in the history books of WTO.