Part of the aspects that make our world a prosperous global village is people’s ability to exchange goods and services across borders in a free and fair manner. For the past 60 years, open trade for the 160 member countries has been administered and enhanced by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Looking back at 20 years of multilateral trade (WTO)
The main goal of the WTO is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business, while allowing governments to meet social and environmental objectives. Read more here.
Top decisions and agreements are generally made every two years by consensus of the entire membership during the Ministerial Conferences (MC), which is the highest institution of the WTO. Since 1996, when the first WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Singapore, there have been numerous agreements made, trade policies reviewed, boosted trade growth, resolution of trade disputes among member states, and support for developing countries to integrate into the trading system as outlined in the WTO’s main activities.
Nairobi will play host to the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference slated for 15-18 December 2015. This is not only a great honor for the Kenyan capital, but also an inaugural and opportune moment for Africa to assert its potential within the global economy.
During the launch of the WTO conference’s website, President Kenyatta and the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Amina Mohammed, highlighted some issues top on the agenda to be discussed by the delegates from member states, they include;
• The conclusion of the Doha roundtable talks and delivery of development as promised in the Doha declaration of 2001. Pending issues from the Doha round include trade facilitation, agricultural development and support of Least Developed Countries (LDC’s).
• Slashing barriers to cross border business.
• Negotiations on trade in environmental goods and services such as catalytic converters, air filters or consultancy services on wastewater management.
• Fishery grants.
• Expanded information technology agreement to remove tariffs on a wide range of information technology products.
WTO indicates here that the biggest beneficiary of transparent and predictable trade rules and obligations is the private sector. Without business, there would be no trade and no WTO. Therefore, what benefits would the successful outcomes of the Nairobi round mean for local businesses?
Primarily, there shall be the integration of Africa into the Multilateral Trading System (MTS) – a system that allows the exchange of financial instruments between multiple parties. This will enhance Africa’s efforts to increased regional and continental trade, meaning local businesses will be able to able to have a share of the global trade pie without discrimination and will also experience fair competition among many other benefits listed here. This will eventually help in realizing the much sought after global Free Trade Area.
In addition, there shall be improved social-economic and sustainable development of Africa, a speed up toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a boost to trade and investment with fair and equal treatment, and the eradication of poverty especially through creation of employment opportunities.
A conclusive outcome and positive agreements after the four day WTO Ministerial conference at KICC, will definitely open up the African content to see and hear more stories of successful business ventures and improved livelihoods like this one of Jackson Mutua.