NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – Kenya’s head of delegation to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Karanja Kibicho says negotiators will be forced to burn the midnight oil to finalise discussions on three key issues on agriculture including export competition, stockholding and agricultural subsidies.
Briefing the media on Thursday evening, Kibicho said the three issues remained ‘sensitive’ and required more consultations despite the limited time. The WTO conference will close on Friday at noon.
“On agriculture, the facilitator has circulated three draft decisions on Export Competition, Special Safe Guards Mechanisms and Public Stockholding Food Security purposes,” he said.
The draft decisions are based on the consultations the facilitator of the negotiations has held with the members of the WTO and as Kibicho put it, they were hopeful that this will form part of the final outcome of Nairobi.
The standoff at the moment is on the implementation timelines especially on when something like export subsidies rules should be applied.
“There are those who wanted it implemented immediately and those that proposed for longer periods,” Kibicho said without getting into the details, “members engaged on intensive negotiations including date for elimination of export subsidies for agriculture.”
He however noted that the 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.”
“We will be here throughout the night,” he said.
So far the members have made progress on certain issues which are going to be part of the overall outcome of the Tenth WTO meeting.
The agreement on e-commerce will help to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions, until the next ministerial session to be held in 2017.
“This decision favourable to Kenya which is vibrant and growing innovator of e-commerce products and services like M-PESA,” Kibicho noted.
He has also welcomed the agreement on Information Technology that has just been concluded after an 18 years wait.
Progress was also made on the extension of transitions period for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for a period address their challenges in public health, including access to cheaper drugs.
Agreements on flexible rules of Origins for exports from LDCs will promote export from these countries and thereby facilitating into the international trading system.