Slow pace of trade talks concern for Kenya

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BY RAILA ODINGA

Allow me to say a few words about the WTO and the ongoing Doha Round of Trade Negotiations.

As founder member of WTO, Kenya supports the organization in its efforts to strengthen the Multilateral Trading System (MTS). We also support the reforms that have been initiated in the WTO.
 
We view the MTS as an avenue through which Kenya and other developing countries could gradually and systematically integrate their trade and investments into the global economy.  Such an integration process would ultimately promote economic growth, alleviate poverty and create higher living standards for our people.

Kenya is currently chairing the African Group in Geneva, and is fully committed to the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations.

In this respect, we are concerned at the slow progress of the negotiations, which is becoming increasingly burdensome to developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

We have noted that Agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access have been responsible for the stagnation of the negotiations. This is due to the sensitivities and the entrenched positions taken mainly by both developed and advanced developing countries.
 
We urge all members, particularly the major players, to engage constructively in the negotiations so that the remaining issues can be resolved to pave way for the conclusion of the Doha Round of Trade negotiations.

Kenya expects the outcome to reflect the development concerns of developing countries.

During the sixth Round Table meeting held on 18th October, 2010 with the private sector, focus was on the implementation status of the commitments made during the last five round table meetings, including the special round table meeting on the East African Community. 

We discussed and suggested priority areas to be fast-tracked under Food Security, Transport, East African Common Market, Financial Services and Education.

As regards licensing regimes, emphasis needs to be put on Licensing Reforms, as we agreed during the 6th Round Table.

It is important that the responsible ministries, particularly the Ministry of Local Government, the City Council of Nairobi and all the local authorities across the country fully implement the licensing reforms. The reforms should be based on the 2006 report on the Review of Business Licenses and Fees, so as to tackle the issues of single business permits and other levies.

I wish to underscore the need for ministries to hold regular Ministerial Stakeholders Forum with KEPSA to thrash out operational and sectoral issues, especially in this area of licensing. In addition, Ministries should designate Ministerial Stakeholders Forum Desk Officers to liaise regularly with KEPSA.

Water is critical to our development. In Kenya, however, water resources have dwindled mainly due to destruction of the environment, including human settlement in water catchment areas, and Climate Change.  Our per capita water storage capacity stands among the lowest in the world. 
 
It is for this reason that the Government, in Vision 2030, set itself a goal of increasing per capita storage capacity through the National Water Storage and Harvesting Management Policy.

The government has also prepared a Water Storage Strategy aimed at ensuring Kenya water security in the future.  The measures being undertaken include construction of 25 large dams at a cost of Sh100 billion, which will store enough water for all uses.

I want to appeal to all Kenyans to embark on deliberate efforts to conserve water catchment areas and to make proper use of the little water that comes with the current rains. We must all support the efforts by the government to conserve our environment.

(Mr Odinga is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya)
 

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