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Kenya: A December of Trade Wins for KenyaMonday, January 04, 2016 > 12:17:43
(All Africa By Bankelele)
December 2015 has been an excellent month for Kenya's image and prospects with regard to African and world trade.
First, there was the well-managed tenth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference (MC10) held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi. Hats off to Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, the organising team, suppliers, partners, vendors and security.
Delegates at the event made reference to past ministerial talks at Bali and Doha, but almost no one made reference to the third Ministerial conference of 1999 in Seattle, USA.
That year, record crowds of protesters opposed to global trade invaded the conference venue and prevented delegates from entering as they battled with local police, basically leading to the talks' collapse.
Kenya has endured a difficult few years due to terror attacks in Nairobi and elsewhere in the country and successfully hosting the Ministerial Conference in 2015 was a major milestone.
While there were a few protesters inside the MC10 venue, they were able to protest peacefully, without affecting the sessions.
How they got into the venue does raise questions, given that the parts of Nairobi hosting the conference had been cordoned off.
The second reason was the agreements reached late in Nairobi at the end of the Summit.
After an extra day of talks at the MC10, members secured what will be known as the "Nairobi Package".
This included a binding agreement to abolish export subsidies for most agricultural products, something that developing countries have sought.
Another agreement included was to allow Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to export goods at a preferential rate while sourcing up to 75 per cent of components from another country.
One speaker, who cited Bangladesh as a country that has used its garment industry to halve its poverty levels in twenty years, also spoke of a Bangladeshi company that produces high quality shirts for the Ferrari Formula 1 team.
The company has to produce different shirts for every race, and while Ferrari sources the shirts, stitching new patches and sponsor logos and shipping them out to the next t race venue is a valuable activity that the company can now claim as a Bangladeshi export
TRUE KENYAN STYLE
Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa countries are expected to benefit from this, with Kenya, which does not appear on the list of Least Developed countries as recently as December 11, 2015, likely excluded.
Liberia joined the WTO after eight years, and Afghanistan's application was approved after ten years. It's now up to their respective Parliaments to ratify their inclusion to the WTO.
Just prior to the MC10, Kenya's National Assembly ratified a Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) in one of their last scheduled sessions before their long Christmas break to February.
The TFTA amalgamates three current regional trading blocs - the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) into one new 26-nation bloc.
It gives Kenyan exporters preferential access to six new markets including Angola, Mozambique, and Africa's most advanced economy, South Africa.
In true Kenyan style, the agreement was brought to Parliament at the last minute.
The House just about managed to stave off some mild embarrassment, saving the country from hosting the global MC10 trade event without having done its legislative part.