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Africa must fight for her fair share of global trade

By Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda | December 19th 2015

The moment I got the indication that the World Trade Organisation 10th ministerial meeting was headed for Nairobi I was really happy. Happy because it would significantly expose Kenya to the world.

Coupled with recent visits by US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, the WTO meeting was a much needed confidence boost for our country, especially following numerous terror attacks that nearly wiped out the important tourism industry.

I have, however, been pessimistic on the outcomes of the talks.

Africa has borne the brunt of two significant devastating milieus that have failed to wash away – namely slave trade and colonialism. These two were a direct consequence of the fortunes of foreign powers.

The world has changed significantly since slavery and colonialisation era but little has changed in the perceptions of trade routes, fortunes expansion, fear and control.

But this cannot thrive forever in an environment of inequality. Just as the feudal system ensured that the landlords survived by subjugating the serfs, apparently the changes that have encumbered global relationships still leaks remnants of this immoral relationship.

Having surveyed the history of economics and trade for that matter, I have had little expectations on this forum happening in Nairobi. Deals on Doha round that would help the developing economies, particularly those in Africa, seemed from the onset not to be priorities of developed nations.

The underlying theme is opening of markets that would disadvantage the developing economies without ceding of any ground from developed nations particularly on matters agriculture.

So other than image building and some revenue in our kitty, what do we achieve on this important summit? Already, there are fights even among the industrialised nations. China and US have a spat on ICT products market.

It is time Africa realised that we have a lot to fight for in the global space than the internal pettiness that we seem to love.

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