Kenya: Govt to Lobby WTO for Freer Trade in ServicesWednesday, September 02, 2015 > 09:54:04
(All Africa By Constant Munda)
Kenya will use the December World Trade Organisation's ministerial conference in Nairobi to push for global liberalisation of trade in services, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed said yesterday.
She said time has come for the 161-member states WTO to lead the process of opening up the services sector, just like it is doing for trade in goods, to ease rising costs especially for developing countries like Kenya.While there has been a considerable liberalisation in financial intermediation and telecommunications sector, she said, trade barriers remain rife in transport and professional services.
"For example, travelling from here (Nairobi) to London costs twice as much as travelling from London to Washington, while the distance is almost the same," she said, adding that such barriers are prevalent across the world. "The WTO should lead this process (because) if the standards are set at the WTO-level, everybody else must adhere that. You cannot go and have a regional treaty that violates the WTO standards or sets higher standards."
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi said half of Africa's wealth, as measured by gross domestic product, is now service-driven.
Kituyi called for policies and regulations that support service liberalisation, but emphasised that agriculture should remain part of such negotiations.
"Kenya and Africa must continue insisting that whatever else you do for us in services and other non-agricultural market access, a minimum compromise is required for purposes of fighting rural poverty and, ensure progress is made on agricultural subsidies and support in the developing economies," he said.
The ministerial conference, held after every two years, is WTO's top decision making organ.