By Eugene Jernigan
There is a consensus within the World trade Organization circles and in this year’s host country Kenya that the Nairobi Ministerial Conference must succeed. The WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo and Kenya’s Foreign Affairs cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed have been championing the success of the conference.
However, critics are questioning who will benefit from the conference. Their scepticism is based on the opinion that since the formation of the WTO, most EU and US policies have undermined Africa’s development agenda, especially in the agricultural sector.
The major concern for developing countries now is the progress of the Doha development agenda, which faces uncertainties. The Nairobi Ministerial Conference is expected to give a declaration on the rate of the Doha Round.
The last ministerial meeting in Bali discussed an agreement on trade facilitation, agriculture and other issues concerning least developed countries (LDC). The trade deal was designed to streamline Customs procedures, increase transparency and reduce red tape, but so far only a few countries have ratified the agreement.
High on the agenda of the Nairobi meeting will be export subsidies, particularly agriculture and dairy products since farmers and producers in developing countries face hugely subsidised imports from developed countries, depressing local prices.
Developing countries like India and Bangladesh are calling for a scrapping of all subsidies in developing countries.
The Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger; achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting agriculture; ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well being of all ages; promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all; and revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development, should form the basis of the deliverables for the Nairobi WTO Ministerial Conference.
Eugene works at Consumer Unity and Trust Society, Africa Resource Centre in Nairobi