The Star (Nairobi)

African States Told to End Trade Barriers

AFRICAN countries need to ease trade and reduce bureaucracy among themselves in order to strongly bargain at World Trade Organization negotiations, a trade forum in Nairobi was told yesterday.

African Development Bank's manager for regional integration and trade division Moona Mupotola said that apart from making trade easier in individual countries, regional economic treaties must also be fully implemented to strengthen the continent's global trade position.

Mupotola said that during the first technical meeting for African trade facilitation negotiations held in Kigali in 2010, it was decided that the continent needs a more coordinated approach on trade matters when dealing with international negotiators and regional economic communities.

For instance the East Africa Common market came into force in June 2010 but the ease of movement of goods, services and people between member states is yet to be fully realised. Mupotola was speaking during a symposium held for African countries organized by ADB and WTO.

"This forum provides the opportunity to look at some of the implementation issues that concern member states and discuss proposals on how the negotiations can be advanced towards an equitable result for our continent," said Mupotola.

Kenya's Foreign ministry diplomatic and political secretary Patrick Wamoto who represented minister Sam Ongeri advised governments to eliminate cumbersome procedures that stifle trade and discourage investment. He also called for infrastructure upgrade to strengthen negoatiations.

"To complement our negotiations in the WTO, Africa needs to upgrade infrastructure on which its trade depends," said Wamoto. Last year, the WTO negotiating group on market access for non agricultural products made significant progress on parts of their agenda to eliminate non tariff barriers, according to the WTO annual report 2012.

The ADB on its part said it will help improve infrastructure, a key component for ease of trade, by developing 51 projects between now and 2050 at a cost of $360 billion (Sh30.7 trillion). The symposium ends on Friday.

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