WTO Workshop with Kenyan civil society, 6 November 2015
The 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO MC10) is scheduled to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 18 December 2015. It is the first time the Ministerial will be held on the African continent.
Ahead of the Ministerial, the Trade Law Centre (tralac) hosted a workshop with Kenyan civil society in Nairobi. The workshop was held in collaboration with the Centre for Regional Integration (CefRI), a recently established non-governmental organisation offering research, training, and advisory services on regional integration in Africa. The workshop was held at the Serena Hotel, on 6 November 2015. The workshop followed a breakfast meeting with Kenyan private sector on 5 November. The meeting was attended by a cross-section of civil society organisations (including think tanks and academics) and partners.
Dr. Henry Mutai (tralac Associate) welcomed participants to the meeting and highlighted the importance of the meeting in promoting dialogue with civil society on aspects that are pertinent to Kenya and other African countries, as negotiations continue in Geneva towards the Ministerial meeting in December. He also notified the meeting of tralac’s willingness to provide training on trade policy and law to civil society in Kenya and the EAC region.
Discussions during the workshop centred on presentations delivered by respective resource persons as follows: Overview and State of Play of WTO negotiations – Professor Jasper Okelo, WTO Chair, University of Nairobi; Kenya’s trade profile and prospects for the CFTA – Prof. Ron Sandrey, tralac Associate; Trade and development issues – Mr. Abdirizak Musa on behalf of Ms. Serah Kimani, Lecturer, Kenyatta University School of Law; The Agreement on Agriculture – Dr. Mirriam Omolo, Programmes Coordinator, Institute of Economic Affairs; Aid for Trade – Dr. Henry Mutai, tralac Associate; and Trade facilitation and non-tariff barriers to Kenya’s trade – Mr. William Mwanza, tralac Researcher.
The presentations were followed by stimulating discussions by participants, who broadly appreciated the enhanced understanding on key WTO issues and on Kenya’s trade profile gained from them, and highlighted their engagement ahead of the Ministerial.
The following aspects were agreed in terms of the way forward:
It is important for civil society organisations in Kenya to consolidate a common position and to follow this with vigilant and proactive engagement in the run up to the Ministerial Conference. In this regard, the discussions at the current workshop were seen as important input into a civil society meeting to be held for this purpose later in November, 2015.
There is need for greater capacity building on WTO and other trade related issues which should be targeted at national and local institutions as well as different segments of the population such as women and young people. Tralac reaffirmed its commitment to this capacity building role and invited proposals from prospective partners in Kenya and East Africa, where it looks to increase its engagement.
In closing, Dr. Mutai thanked participants for their effective engagement during the workshop. He indicated that tralac intends to host another workshop with civil society after the WTO Ministerial so as to review the outcome of the meeting and chart a way forward for further engagement.
Dr. Wanyama Masinde (Director of CefRI) thanked tralac for partnering with his organisation to host the workshop in Nairobi. He thanked participants for their fruitful engagement during the meetings and also reiterated the importance of continued engagement both before and after the Ministerial.
Ms. Caroline Kago (Kenyatta University School of Law) offered a vote of thanks on behalf of participants.