President Kenyatta opens WTO conference with a call for tangible results


President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses delegates during the opening of the 10th Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization at KICC, Nairobi. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta ton Tuesday opened the World Trade Organization (WTO) 10th Ministerial Conference with a call for tangible outcomes.

Uhuru said Africa and least developed countries in the world expect the WTO to deliver equitable growth for all nations.

“Our countries firmly believe in the multilateral trading system’s ability to deliver meaningful outcomes for our growth, development and poverty reduction strategies,” he said.

The President told delegates gathered at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre that Africa, as the continent with the lowest participation in global trade, is ready to be part of the global economic transformation.

“As the continent with the lowest participation in global trade, and the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations, the world will change for the better from an Africa that trades more goods and services with more markets,” Uhuru said.

He pointed out that while African leaders are determined to tackle poverty challenges, they require the goodwill and the support of the rest of the world to succeed.

Uhuru emphasized the need for a global trade system that allows countries to seize opportunities as a fundamental part of their drive to solve challenges such as poverty, insecurity, and environmental destruction.

He said African countries are seeking deeper more beneficial roles in the global economy even as they boosted regional integration as a priority.

“We know that increasing trade between ourselves will boost our economic growth, and create jobs for our youth,” he added.

Uhuru said multilateral blocs are in agreement on eradication of poverty from the globe and what is required is for countries to put in place the right strategies.

President Kenyatta said the slow progress in concluding the Doha Round has given impetus to a multiplicity of mega free trade agreements and does not augur well for a transparent and rule-based Multilateral Trading System.

“The WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December, 2013 was the first under the Doha Round that succeeded in concluding negotiations in a limited number of areas including the Trade Facilitation Agreement,” said the President.

He said the Doha Round of negotiations in agriculture provides the best opportunity to address the distortions and align global trade with development goals.

The President called for accelerated negotiations toward a positive end to the long journey of establishing a fair and market oriented trade in agriculture.

Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose country is joining WTO, advocated for the removal of all barriers that limit equitable international trade.

She also thanked President Kenyatta for awarding her with the prestigious Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart. She was decorated for her role in reconstructing Liberia.

Others who spoke included the Prime Minister of Uganda Ruhakana Rugunda, WTO Secretary General Roberto Azevedo and the UNCTAD Secretary-General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi who represented the United Nations Secretary General.