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Redefining trade in a fast-changing and globalised world


In our rapidly evolving, globalised world, the paradigms of trade are continuously shifting. At the intersection of technology, geopolitics, and sustainability, nations are grappling with the complexities of crafting trade environments that are robust, equitable and forward-thinking. For Kenya, a nation with a rich tapestry of commerce and culture, this moment presents both a challenge and an unparalleled opportunity.

To understand the current landscape, one must first recognize the seismic changes underpinning the global trade arena. Digital disruptions, environmental concerns, and regional geopolitics are reshaping how we approach trade. This is not the era of only transactional exchanges; this is the age of strategic, sustainable, and synergistic trade partnerships.

Amidst this backdrop, KEBS’ current involvement in a myriad of initiatives cannot be understated. We are actively participating in the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, National Trade Negotiations Council and its Committees, ensuring Kenya’s voice is firmly at the table. As we delve into the nuances of trade facilitation, it is paramount to realize that facilitating trade is not about cutting corners but about smoothing the path, ensuring that both businesses and consumers benefit.

Our role in operating the TBT National Consultative Committee and the TBT National Enquiry Point (NEP) is fundamental in ensuring transparency, accessibility, and adherence to the highest standards. These entities serve as the nerve centres for trade queries, information dissemination, and continuous dialogue between local and international stakeholders.

Furthermore, as Kenya delves into bilateral trade negotiations, KEBS’ role is crucial. Bilateral negotiations offer a unique platform to address specific trade concerns, capitalize on mutual interests, and forge strategic alliances. They are a testament to our proactive approach, where we don’t wait for opportunities but actively seek and create them.

The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) serves as a beacon. However, like all tools, its efficacy is determined by its application. Discrepancies in its adoption reveal a deeper need to recalibrate our understanding of trade. Are we merely trading, or are we building lasting trade relationships?

Kenya’s diverse economic portfolio offers a unique advantage. However, leveraging this requires us to transcend traditional trade narratives. We must be innovators, collaborators, and visionaries.

Trade, in its truest essence, is about creating shared value. At KEBS, our recent engagements have underscored the need for this paradigm shift. We see a Kenya where trade becomes a tool for nation-building.

This vision demands collective leadership, proactive, empathetic, and informed. It beckons leaders to exercise foresight in navigating global trade.

As we stand at this transformative juncture, I invite every stakeholder to collaborate. Let’s co-create a trade narrative that speaks to our potential. Let’s pool our strengths, address challenges, and carve a future where Kenya is not just a participant but a pivotal force in global trade.

In conclusion, the task ahead is monumental but not insurmountable. Redefining trade in today’s world of digital economy and climate change mitigation measures is a clarion call for introspection, innovation, and inspiration. It’s our moment of truth. A moment to realign strategies and redefine our position in the global trade matrix.

Let’s remind ourselves: Trade isn’t just about commodities; it’s about communities. It’s about shaping a legacy of prosperity, partnership, and promise for the future.

 Esther Ngari is the Ag. Managing Director at the Kenya Bureau of Standards

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