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 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 meeting adopted a number of decisions now referred to as the Nairobi Package.
The meeting commenced with a brief on the main PACT EAC2 activities to be undertaken in the next four year phase. Members expressed their appreciation and full support for the project, as well as the wish to participate in the project activities not only in Geneva but at the regional and national level as well. As was the case in the earlier phase, they felt that through this project, they are better able to link the Geneva processes to their respective Capitals, and at the EAC regional level. In addition country update notes were circulated to the Members on the stakeholder perspectives from the EAC countries on the MC10 outcomes, as well as a brief issue note developed on the same subject.
MC10 Outcomes & Lessons learned
The general consensus is that there was a minimal outcome in MC10, although important decisions were made on agriculture and LDC issues, there were no decisions on some significant issues of interest for the EAC such as special and differential treatment. On the specific decision reached the meeting found that the decision on preferential rules of origin was an improvement on the earlier Bali decision in that Members are now committed to follow certain criteria.
Further, it was felt that the process in negotiating the Nairobi Package lacked transparency, and there was evident lack of leadership among the developing countries to strongly push for their interests. Never the less, given that in the lead up to Nairobi there was uncertainty as to whether any deal could be attained, the final outcome is worth something to build upon.
The MC10 declaration is unclear as to the way forward and this is something that will be deliberated in the post Nairobi phase of the WTO negotiations, however it is envisaged that there will have to be a trade-off between completing the Doha Agenda issues and the introduction of new issues. It is in light of these that Members of the EAC forum requested for future forum meetings to delve more on those issues, so as to gain more understanding and country scenarios. This will be invaluable once the issues are formally introduced for negotiation, as is likely to be the case.