The so-called “new issues”, which have been floating around for a long time, have now been but on the WTO agenda by trade ministers in Nairobi last year. As of early 2016, WTO members are now trying to figure out what precisely these “new issues” could be, and what are their own interests therein. Looking at recent trade agreements, possible new issues may include those “Singapore issues” which already have a history at the WTO like investment, government procurement and competition policy. This paper focuses on the latter, providing a historical overview of debates related to competition policy within the WTO.
WTO members are currently trying to figure out the possible nature and scope of the “new issues” pushed by some for being introduced in multilateral trade negotiations. At this meeting, East African delegates to the WTO were updated on their stakeholders' perspectives and exchanged views regarding the possible introduction of Competition Policy on the WTO agenda, which is sometimes mentionned as a possible "new issue". Discussions highlighted that, given its nascent stage in the EAC, it is too early to be introduced in WTO negotiations. Rather, stakeholders recommended that efforts first focus on strengthening it nationally and harmonising it regionally, calling for human capacity, infrastructure, and institutional development assistance in this regard.