“We must allow the intensive negotiations that are underway,” said Karanja Kibicho, Kenya Principal Secretary for foreign affairs at the ongoing four-day World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference. “It is agriculture that will deliver a Nairobi Ministerial Declaration.”
Kenya’s position resonates with a declaration by the Cotton Four, four West African countries leading the negotiations on the removal of cotton subsidies on behalf of 34 other African cotton producers.
The ministers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, agreed in Nairobi on Wednesday, to declare a trade dispute if a deal is not reached to end agricultural subsidies at the Nairobi conference. They said they could pursue the issue in court if failed.
“We want a sustainable solution to deal with the issue of the massive subsidies. This is the front we have been fighting for 12 years,” said Aziz Mahamat Saleh, the Chadian minister of Economy, Commerce and Tourism.
While still insisting that the WTO is the best forum for the African countries and other players to get what they require to improve on their trade competitiveness, Saleh said there were other factors that stopped the poor countries from obtaining answers to their key demands.
“The agreements we have seen facilitate the West to trade more than we can trade. We could benefit more if we were granted the trade facilitation as LDCs to enable us to increase our exports. We would appreciate more trade support,” Saleh said at a press conference.
The Chadian minister said an agreement to remove the subsidies would re-establish a certain balance within Africa, which would be able to benefit only once it sets up a continental free trade area. Enditem