Meeting Concludes with a Firm Strategy on Future Negotiations on the Doha Round.
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ECA Press Release No. 40/2009

Nairobi, 08 September 2009 (ECA) - The African Group of trade negotiators and experts concluded their two-day meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday 8th September with a firm commitment to work towards the resolution of the Doha Round of trade negotiations by the end of next year.  However, the group cautioned that even though deadlines are important, the negotiations will remain content driven, rather than time driven.

Presenting the conclusions and way forward after the two-day meeting, Mohamed Abulkheir, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, said: “Concluding the Round should not come at the expense of its developmental components.  Development outcomes in each of the negotiations tracks remain the raison d’être of the Doha Round.”

Egypt is currently the coordinator of the African Group to the WTO in Geneva.

Mr. Abulkheir also expressed the Group’s concerns that no significant progress has been made in key areas of interest to Africa, including the Cotton issue, negotiations on agriculture and non-agricultural market access, services and trade facilitation. 

The meeting heard that several studies based on the current modalities for negotiations shows that Africa will not benefit much from the Doha Round agreement on trade in goods unless trade facilitation measures are factored in.  The meeting therefore called on ECA to conduct a thorough analysis on how trade facilitation will benefit Africa to ensure it is not stuck in exporting primary products.

The meeting also called on ECA to organize a capacity building session for African countries on scheduling issues at the WTO, as many of the negotiators, and officials in African countries, have not experienced this process before.  Some countries at the WTO are calling for a re-opening of the scheduling processes, which may have far-reaching consequences for Africa.

In closing the meeting, Mr. Abdoulahi Mahamat, the officer-in-charge of ECA’s trade, finance and economic development division, thanked all participants for their contributions that will improve Africa’s negotiations position at the WTO.

He assured participants that ECA is ready to conduct many of the studies that the meeting has requested and sais ECA would work with the African Group to ensure that the meeting’s outcomes will be presented to African ministers of trade at their forthcoming Cairo summit..

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