PUBLISHED ON November 11th, 2014

Kenya puts in bid to host high-profile trade talks next year

Kenya is bidding to host the World Trade Organisation’s ( WTO) 10th Ministerial Conference, which is scheduled for December 2015 to conclude the Doha Round of talks.

Kenya will fight it out with Turkey, the only other country bidding to host the global trade forum expected to attract more than 6,000 delegates from member nations’ private and public sectors.

Winning bid
Nelson Ndirangu, the director for economics and external trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said Kenya submitted its request to the chair of the WTO General Council, Jonathan Fried, before Turkey did.

“We dispatched 200 copies of the bids to WTO headquarters to be supplied to the organisation’s 160 members, appealing to them to support Kenya’s bid to host the global forum,” Amb Ndirangu said.

The WTO General Council is expected to announce the winning bid before the start of this year’s Christmas festivities.

“If approved, it would be the first time the meeting is held in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We fronted a strong case to host the meeting based on the fact that Kenya qualifies as a member of WTO, and it has developed the capacity over the years to accommodate such an international meeting. Further, we stand a better chance to host the forum based on our aggressive participation in international trade matters,” said Ndirangu.

He added that Kenya has also written to the Turkish government, requesting it to drop its bid and support Kenya, but it has yet to respond.

The Ministerial Conference is the top decision-making body of the WTO, which usually meets every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO. The conference makes decisions on all multilateral trade agreements and offers political direction for the organisation.

Ndirangu added that after Kenya sent its proposal, a team of WTO technical officials visited the country to assess the country’s ability to host the meeting.

The team visited hospitality facilities to confirm their capacity in terms of rooms and conference halls, and held meetings with various stakeholders.

Conferencing hub
The organisation’s Information and External Relations Division Director, Keith Rockwell, confirmed Nairobi has been assessed by technical officers, and a decision on the report by the WTO’s General Council will be made any time from now.

Nairobi has become a conferencing hub in the last couple of years. It has hosted several international forums and become a preferred destination due to its strategic position in the East African region.

“Kenya has been a trade global player, economic leader, champion for growth of trade and offered leadership in regional peace initiatives. Further, it hosts the headquarters of two leading United Nations agencies — United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat),” Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) Managing Director Moses Ikiara said.

The December 2015 WTO conference is expected to conclude issues pending from the Doha Round of Talks in 2001.

The Doha Round focused on agriculture, non-agricultural market access, intellectual property rights, trade and development, trade facilitation and dispute settlement.

The talks were launched during the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, but hit a deadlock in 2008 when developed and developing nations failed to agree on a formula to reduce import duties on industrial goods and lower farm subsidies.

The last conference held in Bali, Indonesia, saw WTO members draft a smaller pact and agree on a handful of deliverables that brought the organisation closer to completing the Doha Round. The agreement includes deals on trade facilitation, agriculture and issues around least developed countries (LDCs).

Source: Standard Digital

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.