climate-aware, trade-driven, food security-enhancing
agro-processing for East Africa

Trade Negotiators' Forum

In Geneva, this bi-monthly forum for East African trade negotiators informs their concerted participation on issues of their interest in World Trade Organization (WTO) debates. They also benefit from country updates providing a snapshot of the current trade realities, as reported by people on the ground.

Despite the importance of marine resources for the environment, food security and economic growth, destructive practices such as overfishing has dramatically reduced the size of fish resources worldwide.
Despite the huge potential for agriculture in the EAC, the region remains a net food importer relying on imports to sustain its population. Trade-distorting domestic support in agriculture remains a major challenge preventing the EAC from integrating in the world markets. At this meeting, East African negotiators to the WTO examined the prospects of this issue in the run-up to this year's ministerial conference.
The relationship between trade and investment was among the “Singapore issues” dropped from WTO negotiations after the 2003 Cancun Ministerial Conference. However, with ministers' recent decision to explore new negotiating issues at the WTO and the growing presence of investment in trade agreements worldwide, some anticipate a possible comeback of investment at the WTO. At this meeting, East African negotiators discussed the state and ground realities of investment in their countries.
Government procurement is increasingly attracting attention in Free Trade Agreements and regional integration. While liberalizing government procurement can help public procurers get better value for money, it may also reduce policy space for using some trade-distorting government procurement methods aimed at promoting enterprise development domestically. Against this backdrop, East African negotiators reflected on their potential priorities and interests in liberalizing their government procurement sector, based on their stakeholders’ feedback from the ground.
SMEs comprise 90 per cent of all firms globally and are the largest source of employment. However, WTO’s 2016 World Trade Report indicates that SMEs are highly vulnerable to trade barriers given their limited access to finance, technology, skilled labour, and markets; and recognizes the importance of making international trade more inclusive to them. As consultations are ongoing at the WTO in this regard, East African negotiators met to gather inputs and discuss the chalenges faced by their SMEs.
Following the Nairobi decision allowing WTO Members to consider negotiating some “new issues”, electronic commerce has received renewed interest in trade debates over the past few months. At this meeting, East African delegates to the WTO were briefed about the history and status of the WTO work programme on E-Commerce. They were also updated about stakeholders’ views on the matter in their respective countries.
The cotton, textile and apparel (CTA) sector has been prioritised in East Africa for its promising development potential. Yet, only 15% of the cotton produced is processed within the region and the rest is exported to other developing and developed countries for processing into textile and apparels. At this meeting, East African negotiators to the WTO reflected on the trade challenges faced by CTA value chains in their region, based on updates from stakeholders on the ground.
Contemporary debates suggest the need for integrating economies in global value chains (GVCs) as an effective means for harnessing development through trade. However, Africa, more so sub-Saharan African countries remain trapped at the lower end of GVCs contributing raw materials and basic value addition. Then, how to catapult the region into higher end value chains? At this meeting, East African negotiators to the WTO considered this question with the help of feedback provided by their stakeholders on the ground.
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,…
East African delegates to the WTO met in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, with representatives of the civil society who have been providing them perspectives from the ground on trade issues of their interest under the “EAC Geneva Forum”. Discussions identified potential topics to be taken up this year and possible ways to strengthen the initiative.

Ongoing Discussions

  • Burundi WTO discussion

    Feb 19, 2016 | 09:29 am

    We can discuss WTO issues here for Burundi

  • SSM Needs to be discussed

    Feb 19, 2016 | 09:21 am

    Lets discuss SSM issues

  • trade forum discussion

    Feb 19, 2016 | 04:43 am

    Let us discuss topics of MTS to support our delegates in Geneva. Best regards, Julien Grollier Programme Officer CUTS International, Geneva Tel: +41 22 7346080 Fax: +41 22 7343914 Email: Web: Skype: cuts.grc [image: CUTS-Rlogo.jpg]

  • My response

    Feb 18, 2016 | 15:06 pm

    This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response This is my response[…]

  • test discussion

    Feb 18, 2016 | 11:38 am

    this is a test discussion body.


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