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.
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.
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.
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.
The 10th Ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO MC10) was held for the first time on Africa’s soil in Nairobi, Kenya from December 15th to 19th, 2015. The conference adopted a number of decisions now referred to as the Nairobi Package. This meeting brought together East African WTO negotiators who discussed the MC10 outcomes, foreseeable challenges, and the way forward.
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.
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.
Worldwide, the relatively low tariff levels are now less of a burden for exporters than non-tariff barriers. Despite their preferential market access to target markets like the EU and US, East African exporters continue to face non-tariff barriers such as license requirement and standards which hamper the full realization of their trade potential.
The Nairobi ministerial conference, the first-ever to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, reached several decisions including in the areas of agriculture, cotton, LDC issues and information technology. This note reviews these decisions in light of East African countries’ interests in WTO negotiations, to help delegates reflect on their implications, lessons learned, and mapping out the next steps going forward.
This session organised as part of the ICTSD Trade and Development Symposium on the side lines of the conference aimed to demonstrate how synergizing trade and climate regimes at multilateral, regional and national level can enhance food security and improve livelihoods, in the context of the EAC region.