Regional Dialogue

Second Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa

Trade for Peace through WTO Accessions

Djibouti City, Djibouti - Djibouti Palace Kempinski

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Following the success of the first Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa held in Nairobi on 28-30 August 2017, participants have requested the WTO Secretariat to organize a Regional Dialogue on a yearly basis until the completion of all accessions(1) in the Region.(2)

The concrete outcomes of the first Regional Dialogue include the establishment of the Working Party on the accession of South Sudan at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference. In addition, the accession negotiations of Comoros have been steadily advancing with the holding of its fourth Working Party meeting. Regionally, the continent has also witnessed a historic moment with the official signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on 21 March 2018, in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda. In total, most African Union Member States, including all nine African Acceding Governments(3) have signed the AfCFTA consolidated text. Furthermore, Somalia officially acceded to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa on 19 July 2018.

In light of these positive developments, the WTO Secretariat will organize a second Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa in Djibouti City, on 3 – 6 December 2018 under the theme: Trade for Peace through WTO Accessions.

Why Trade for Peace?

Trade forms an essential pillar of a country’s development strategy.  Empirical studies have shown that those who trade successfully tend to make significant progress in alleviating poverty and raising living standards. Liberal internationalists have argued that trade naturally promotes peace as it brings "interactions", "engagements" and "hopes".  At the same time, there are a large number of fragile economies that are not reaping the benefits of trade for establishing peace.  From this angle, several LDCs and post-conflict countries are outside the multilateral trading system and currently endeavour to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The accession process enables countries to form credible economic and trade policy frameworks and promote transparency and good governance as part of WTO accession-related reforms. This reform process creates an enabling environment for Acceding Governments to strengthen their economies which can consequently foster peace. The Horn of Africa in particular has been under the spotlight for several decades due to factors relating to instability including armed and diplomatic conflicts, droughts and other related force majeure. At present, approximately two thirds of Acceding Governments are considered conflict-afflicted or fragile economies and several of them are located in the Greater Horn of Africa. That said, the narrative is progressively taking a different turn with a renewed and increased will from political leaders to promote peace in the region. 

Taking this into account, the WTO officially launched the Trade for Peace initiative at the request of the g7+ WTO Accessions Group – a group which represented conflict afflicted Acceding Governments and WTO Members. This Group was launched on 10 December 2017, on the margins of MC11 in Buenos Aires.  The Group is a sub-group of the larger g7+ and comprises eight LDCs associated with WTO accession, including three Article XII Members (Afghanistan, Liberia and Yemen) and five Acceding Governments (Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan and Timor-Leste and). A kick-off seminar of the Trade for Peace initiative was held in collaboration with the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform on 19 September. This seminar was followed by a panel discussion on the "integration of fragile states into the global economy as a pathway towards peace and resilience" at the WTO Public Forum on 4 October.

The second Regional Dialogue, under the thematic focus "Trade for Peace through WTO Accessions" aims to build on the existing discussions across four main sessions:

  • Session 1: Recent Developments in the Greater Horn of Africa
  • Session 2: From Fragility to Resilience: WTO Accession as a Pathway for Peace
  • Session 3: WTO Accession – Capacity Building through Peer-Learning
  • Session 4: Stakeholder Inclusiveness in Trade and WTO Accession

A specialized training for the private sector will take place on day 4 of the Regional Dialogue. This training will be delivered by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and will focus on promoting economic growth by launching a national re-branding agenda.

  1. Comoros, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan back to text
  2. See WT/ACC/30 or click here for the Nairobi Outcome. back to text
  3. Algeria, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya, Sao Tomé and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan back to text

For questions and inquiries on the Programme of the Regional Dialogue, please contact:

For inquiries on travel arrangements and hotel accommodation, please contact:

For inquiries on logistics in Djibouti, please contact:



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