Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has welcomed the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) decision to hold the 10th ministerial conference (MC10) in Nairobi this year. She says the move is a boost to the financial sectors in the country.
The conference that will take place from December 15 to 18, in Nairobi, is the topmost decision-making body that meets every two years. It brings together all WTO members - countries or customs unions. “Hosting the WTO ministerial conference would be a huge boost to our economy as it is likely to influence future investments,” Ms Mohamed said.
“We expect to receive visitors from all parts of the world - a move that will have a direct bearing on the service sectors including banking and hospitality industry.” Kenya made its request to host MC10 on behalf of all African countries, both the 42 that are WTO members and those that are still in the process of accession. The move makes it the first African country to host the WTO ministerial conference since 1996.
The last conference was held in Bali, Indonesia, in 2013, where ministers adopted the “Bali Package” - a series of decisions aimed at streamlining trade. The move allowed developing countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed countries’ trade and generally accelerating development.
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“When WTO members arrive in Kenya this year for our tenth ministerial conference, let members know they will be hosted by the entire continent of Africa,” the CS said. Ms Amina expects more than two thirds, if not all of the WTO members, to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
This will see the agreement come into force before the tenth ministerial conference. “We would also like to see consensus on a broad-based, balanced Post-Bali Work Programme that responds to the imperatives of the global economy for recovery, growth, jobs and development that is sustainable and safeguards our planet,” Ms Mohamed said at the WTO General Council meeting in Geneva, late last year.
The TFA negotiations were concluded in December 2013 at the Bali Ministerial Conference. TFA is expected to improve movement of goods on transit and ease release and clearance among WTO member countries. It is expected to reduce costs that accrue during the movement of goods across borders by reducing paperwork, declaration forms, penalties, and time taken to clear goods at points of entry such as ports and or border crossings.
The TFA will come into force once two-thirds of members have completed their domestic ratification process. The last time Kenya hosted a key international trade conference, the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) forum, was in 2010, where President Barrack Obama’s administration was represented by the then Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton.