The first day of the 10th Ministerial Conference saw two significant outcomes for WTO members.
Negotiations concluded on a high note with Liberia’s accession, making it the 35th Least Developed Country (LDC) to join the trade organisation. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia shared her delight saying:
“Liberia’s accession to the WTO marks another turning point in our history, particularly in our journey of economic transformation for inclusive growth.”
“We appreciate the collective efforts of our partners who have made this accession a resounding success. We fully subscribe to the African common position on strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system to create the Africa that we want, “ she continued.
President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated both President Sirleaf and the Director General of WTO Roberto Azevêdo for making the accession possible. He also noted that it was particularly fitting to have the accession occur on African soil.
“I am particularly pleased that this decision was taken here in Nairobi at the 10th Ministerial Conference. Without a doubt membership of the WTO carries considerable gains and benefits,” he stated.
Another win for MC10 was the passing of the Information Technology Act (ITA), which was officially signed by member countries. The agreement eliminates tariffs from a further 201 information technology products including GPS navigation system and telecommunications satellites, which -according to Mr Azevêdo- will eliminate tariffs on at least 10% of global trade. Prior to this agreement, tariffs on items such as video cameras amounted to 35% in some areas of the world. With the ITA, lower prices for essential IT equipment will foster more innovation and boost IT development.
The ITA is also the first deal in 19 years to cut tariffs in such a significant manner.
On the sidelines of the main conference, representatives from various youth organisations including the Peruvian organisation Somos el Presente met and detailed their requests for ministers to consider at the conference. Prior to the meeting, the panel informally met with relevant high level Kenyan personnel to share their desires for the youth at MC10 and were assured that the Kenyan representatives at MC10 would do their best to put their concerns on the negotiating table. The panel will convene again on Friday 18th December to see if their needs were met when the conference concludes.
MC10 negotiations continue today (Thursday 17th December).