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President Uhuru Kenyatta opens UN trade and development conference

By Dominic Omondi | Published Mon, July 18th 2016 at 00:00, Updated July 17th 2016 at 23:42 GMT +3
Dancers entertain guests at the 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development, at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, yesterday. [PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

President Uhuru Kenyatta opened the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi yesterday.

The President called on the more than 7,000 delegates that will participate in the deliberations to use the occasion to make decisions that will address the skewed trade relations between the developed and least developed countries among other issues.

"UNCTAD 14 is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to exchange views on how these milestones have been reached," he said.

This is the second UNCTAD conference to be held in Kenya after the country hosted the same meeting 40 years ago.
Uhuru said some of the themes that will be covered in these deliberations were largely the same ones on which delegates in the 1976 conference burnt the mid-night oil.

One such theme is commodity prices. Sub-Saharan African growth has been sluggish in the recent years following a drop in the global commodity prices.

Things have not been better for the global economy, which has been buffeted by the debt crisis in Europe, a slowing Chinese economy and the drop in the price of global commodities.

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The high-level trade conference comes at a time when countries are showing discomfort with the stagnant global economy. This has seen a number of countries resort to protectionist policies and xenophobia.

A few weeks ago, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU) in what was billed as a vote of no confidence against globalisation. The decision threw financial markets into a tailspin with Kenya expected to feel the impact of its colonial master to leave the regional market.

Also, last week Tanzania bolted out of the Economic Partnership Agreement between East African Community. The decision by Dar to bolt out of the comprehensive EPA between East African Community (EAC) and the EU leaves Kenya's exports exposed to heavy taxes.

These taxes have been estimated to range from eight to 12 per cent of the value.