ACCESSIONS

Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, Intercontinental Hotel

The WTO Secretariat, in partnership with the Government of Kenya, and the School of Economics of the University of Nairobi held its first Regional Dialogue on WTO accessions from 28 to 30 August 2017.

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Background

Africa has emerged as an increasingly important player of the multilateral trading system.  Africa's active participation has been most evident in the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015.  Today, one quarter of the WTO's 164-membership is African.  These include Cabo Verde, Seychelles and Liberia, which acceded to the Organization pursuant to Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement.  While this is significant, several are still outside the WTO. Currently, 8 of the 21 countries in the queue for WTO membership are from the African continent(1), and several lie within the Greater Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.  This region is also host to two countries which are yet to seek WTO membership – Eritrea and South Sudan, in addition to the two original WTO members (Djibouti and Kenya). Comoros, another country in the process of accession, is located south to the region.

The Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10), held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015, laid the foundation for a stronger multilateral trading system for all the Members.  More specifically, MC10, which was the first WTO Ministerial Conference held in the African continent, has stimulated a dynamic shift in African accessions, in addition to the successful conclusion of the accessions of Liberia and Afghanistan, both post-conflicts LDCs.  On the margins of the MC10, the Fourth China Round Table was held to reflect and exchange views on the role of Africa in the future of the multilateral trading system, as well as the support for WTO accessions, especially for LDCs.  Since the Ministerial Conference, several African countries have reaffirmed their commitment to accede to the WTO.  In particular, since the second half of 2016, Comoros and Sudan have been proactively engaged in their respective accession processes by adopting an ambitious roadmap towards early conclusion.  More recently, Ethiopia has expressed its readiness to resume its accession process, following several years of inactivity. Somalia, which formally started its accession process with the establishment of the Working Party in December 2016, has recently appointed a chief negotiator and a technical team and expressed its readiness to start the technical work.  Moreover, South Sudan has conveyed its intention to submit an application for WTO accession shortly.

It is in this context that a Regional Dialogue on WTO accessions was held for the Greater Horn of Africa.

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Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions for the Greater Horn of Africa, 28-30 August

The WTO Secretariat, in partnership with the Government of Kenya, and the School of Economics of the University of Nairobi held its first Regional Dialogue on WTO accessions from 28 to 30 August 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The target countries for the Regional Dialogue were: four WTO observers – Comoros, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan – and South Sudan(2).

This Regional Dialogue offered a platform to: (i) exchange experiences and lessons learned from the accession processes in the region; (ii) reflect on ways in which WTO membership can foster regional integration and cooperation; and (iii) mobilize support for facilitating and accelerating African accessions.

The programme of the Regional Dialogue was structured into 3 main sessions:

  • Session 1: WTO Membership: Structural Reforms and Regional Integration
  • Session 2: Accession to the World Trade Organization
  • Session 3: Mobilizing Support for WTO Accession

 

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Specialized Training on WTO Accessions for Government officials of Somalia and South Sudan, 31 August – 1 September

The WTO organized a two-day practical training on WTO Accessions for the government officials from Somalia and South Sudan.  Its principal objective was to provide an overview on the WTO accession process and the substance of accession negotiations.  Through presentations and technical working sessions, the training: (i) provided a detailed overview of the basic sections set out in the Memorandum on the Foreign trade Regime (MFTR) – a document required to kick-start the fact-finding phase of the accession process; (ii) reviewed the Legislative Action Plan (LAP) – a document which outlines the legislative work programme underway to achieve full conformity with all WTO rules; and (iii) reflected on next-steps in the accessions of Somalia and South Sudan.

 

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Programme 

Day 1: Monday, 28 August 2017

OPENING SESSION

Moderator: Ambassador Nelson Ndirangu, Director of Economic Affairs and Commercial Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kenya

08.30-09.00 Registration

09.00-09.45Opening Ceremony

  • Remarks by Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO
    Presentation
  • Remarks by Professor Peter Mbithi, Vice Chancellor, University of Nairobi
    Presentation
  • Remarks by H.E. Ambassador (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kenya
    Presentation

09.45-10.00 Group Photograph

10.00-10.30 Coffee Break

SESSION 1

WTO membership — Structural Reforms and Regional Integration

Moderator: Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the WTO

Structural reforms, including through deeper economic integration, is an important component of development strategies.  For Africa, regional integration offers huge potential to drive a sustainable economic growth, job creation, and peace and stability.  Today, out of the 21 ongoing WTO accessions, 8 are African; and together with potential candidates for WTO accession, the majority of them are from the Greater Horn of Africa.  This session explored ways in which the WTO and the path for its membership can complement and foster various regional integration initiatives in the African continent.  Experts from multilateral institutions and development partners provided their perspectives on regional integration in Africa.

10.30-11.00Africa and the Multilateral Trading System

WTO Accession Reforms and Regional Integration

  • Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO
    Presentation

11.00-12.30Fostering Synergies and Coherence between Structural Reforms, the WTO and Regional Integration in Africa — “Davos-style” Panel  Discussion

The Moderator invited each speaker to make a 5 minute intervention, which was followed by questions from the audience and discussions in the panel.

  • Mr. Paul Brenton, Lead Economist, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank Group
  • Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)
  • Mr. Gabriel Negatu, Director-General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office, African Development Bank (AfDB)
  • Ms. Mina Mashayekhi, Head, Trade Negotiations and Commercial Diplomacy Branch, DITC, (UNCTAD)

Followed by Open Discussion

12.30-14.00 Lunch Break

SESSION 1

WTO membership — Structural Reforms and Regional Integration — continuation

Moderator: Ms. Hilda Al-Hinai, Deputy Permanent Representative of Oman to the WTO

14.00-15.45 WTO Membership and Regional Integration — What does the literature say?

  • Dr. Mary Mbithi and Dr. Kennedy Osoro, School of Economics, University of Nairobi
    Presentation

WTO Membership: Experience of China — 15 years of WTO Membership

  • Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the WTO
    Presentation

WTO Membership: Experience of Kenya — Original Member

  • Ambassador Nelson Ndirangu, Director of Economic Affairs and Commercial Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya
    Presentation

Followed by Open Discussion

15.45-16.00 Coffee Break

16.00-17.00 Fostering Regional Integration – Role of WTO Accession

  • Hot Seat Discussion with Ms. Cillia Mangroo, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Trade and Economic Planning, Seychelles

18.00 Reception hosted by the University of Nairobi
Venue: Mara North

Day 2: Tuesday, 29 August 2017

SESSION 2

Accession to the World Trade Organization

Moderator: H.E. Mr. Axel M. Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Republic of Liberia

WTO accession is essentially a process of domestic reforms, which involves changes to the legal and policy frameworks governing trade and the economy as a whole, in line with the WTO rules and principles. As in any domestic reform process, a successful accession requires inter alia a high-level political commitment, a technical negotiating team, inter-ministerial coordination, and domestic stakeholder consultations. Moreover, WTO accession serves as an essential instrument for countries to enhance economic relations with their neighboring trade partners and the international community. Assistance and support of various kinds, whether from WTO members, Working Party Chairpersons or development partners, play an important role in facilitating the accession process. This session focused on the WTO accession process and the substance and results of the recently concluded accessions, especially those of LDCs. In particular, this session provided a platform to exchange experiences and lessons learned from current and past accessions.

09.00-11.00African Accessions – What has been done? What remains to be done?

  • Mr. Abdou Nassur Madi, Director General of Economy and Foreign Trade, Comoros
    Presentation
  • H.E. Dr. Bekele Bulado Bukana, Minister of Trade, Ethiopia
    Presentation
  • H.E. Ms. Khadra Ahmed Dualeh, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Somalia
    Presentation
  • H.E. Mr. Elsadig Mohamed Ali, State Minister of Trade, Sudan and Dr Hassan Ahmed Taha, Chief National Negotiator
    Presentation
  • H.E. Mr. Moses Hassan Ayet Tiel, Minister of Trade, Industry & Investment, South Sudan

Followed by Open Discussion

11.00-11.15 Coffee Break

11.15-12.30Accession to the World Trade Organization — the acquis and the emerging best-practices in LDCs accession

  • Mr. Stefan A. Sandstad and Ms. Mariam Soumaré, Accessions Division, WTO
    Presentation

WTO Accession Process — LDC perspectives

  • Mr. Nagib A. Hamim, Former Negotiator for the WTO Accession of Yemen, Economic Attaché, Permanent Mission of Yemen
    Presentation

Followed by Open Discussion

12.30-14.00 Lunch Break

SESSION 2

Accession to the World Trade Organization — continuation

Moderator: Ms. Cillia Mangroo, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Trade and Economic Planning, Seychelles

14.00-15.45WTO Accession process — A Chairperson's perspective

  • Ms. Hilda Al-Hinai, Deputy Permanent Representative of Oman to the WTO and Former Working Party Chairperson on the Accession of Seychelles

WTO Accession process — An Original Member's perspective

  • Ambassador Nelson Ndirangu, Director of Economic Affairs and Commercial Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kenya

WTO Accession process — A Development Partner's perspective

  • Mr. Simon Hess, Coordinator, Executive Secretariat of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)
    Presentation

Followed by Open Discussion

15.45-16.00 Coffee Break

16.00-17.00 The Accession of Liberia

  • Hot Seat Discussion with H.E. Mr. Axel Addy, Minister of Trade and Industry and former Chief Negotiator for WTO Accession, Liberia

Day 3: Wednesday, 30 August 2017

SESSION 3

Mobilizing Support for WTO Accession

Moderator: Prof. Tabitha Kiriti-Nganga, School of Economics, University of Nairobi

Technical assistance and capacity building is an essential pillar in the WTO accession process, especially for LDCs. Timely response to the specific and evolving needs of acceding governments is critical not only in facilitating the accession process but also maximizing the benefits they can derive from accession-related reforms.  Various support and assistance programmes are available from multilateral institutions and other development partners.  For acceding governments to effectively benefit from the available support, communication and coordination among support providers is important. This session provided a platform for exchange on the accession specific needs that emerged from the previous sessions of the Dialogue.

09.00-10.00 Presentation on WTO Accession-specific Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Needs

  • Representative of Comoros — Mr Saïd Abdou Salime, Négociateur en Chef Technique
    Presentation
  • Representative of Ethiopia — H.E. Dr Bekele Bulado Bukana, Minister of Trade
    Presentation
  • Representative of Somalia — H.E. Ms Khadra Ahmed Dualeh, Minister of Commerce & Industry
  • Representative of Sudan — Dr Hassan Ahmed Taha, Chief National Negotiator
    Presentation
  • Representative of South Sudan — Mr Biel Jock Thich, Undersecretary, Ministry of Trade

10.00-11.00World Bank Support for Acceding Governments

  • Mr. Paul Brenton, Lead Economist, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank Group

Strengthening Trade Negotiations Skills — TAF2+ Support for WTO Accession

  • Mr. Pete Vowles, Country Director, Kenya Office, UK Department for International Development (DFID)

China Programme — Supporting LDC Accessions

  • Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the WTO

IGAD Support and Technical Assistance Projects

  • Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)

Enhancing Trade Knowledge for WTO Accession — AfDB Support for Acceding Governments

  • Mr. Gabriel Negatu, Director-General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office, African Development Bank (AfDB) and Mr. Patrick Kanyimbo, Regional Integration Coordinator-East Africa
    Presentation

UNCTAD Support for Acceding Governments

  • Ms. Mina Mashayekhi, Head, Trade Negotiations and Commercial Diplomacy Branch, DITC (UNCTAD)
    Presentation

Islamic Development Bank Support for Acceding Governments

  • Ambassador Ali Ibn Abi Talib Abdelrahman Mahmoud Elgindi, Senior Cooperation Specialist (IDB)

Interventions by other partners

11.00-11.15 Coffee Break

CLOSING SESSION

Moderators: Ambassador Dr. Stephen Ndung’u Karau, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the WTO
Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO

11.15-12.45 Discussion on lessons learned and adoption of the Outcome Document

  • All participants

12.45-13.00 Closing Remarks

  • Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO
  • Prof. Madara Ogot, Director Research, University of Nairobi
    Presentation
  • H.E. Ambassador (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kenya delivered by Amb. Purity W. Muhindi , Director Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya
    Presentation

13.00-14.30 Lunch Break

14.30 Excursions organized by the Government of Kenya and the University of Nairobi

Day 4: Thursday, 31 August 2017

Specialized Training on WTO Accessions

For Government officials of Somalia and South Sudan

09.00-09.30 Welcome and Opening remarks

  • Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO
  • H.E. Ms. Khadra Ahmed Dualeh, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Somalia
  • H.E. Mr. Moses Hassan Ayet Tiel, Minister of Trade, Industry & Investment, South Sudan

09.30-10.45 Introduction to the World Trade Organization

This session provided an overview of the WTO, including its historical background, objectives, mandates, principles and functions of the organization. This also included the evolution of WTO membership, the work of various bodies and committees and the role of the Secretariat, as well as information regarding the upcoming WTO 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  • Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO

Followed by Q&R

10.45-11.00 Coffee Break

11.00-12.30 WTO Accession Fundamentals

This session provided an overview of the WTO accession process. It elaborated on: (i) the basic provisions governing accession; (ii) the main tracks of accession negotiations as well as documents to be submitted during accession negotiations; and (iii) the terms on which a government may accede to the WTO.

  • Mr. Stefan A. Sandstad and Ms. Mariam Soumaré, Accessions Division, WTO

Followed by Q&R

12.30-14.00 Lunch Break

14.00-15.30 The Foreign Trade Regime of Somalia and South Sudan

Following the establishment of an accession Working Party, the next stage is for the applicant to present factual information on their trade regime by submitting an official document called the Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR). The presentation of a comprehensive and accurate MFTR greatly facilitates the subsequent stages of the accession process. This session provided an overview of the subjects covered under four main chapters of the MFTR. Under each chapter, representatives of Somalia and South Sudan delivered a presentation on their respective domestic regimes.

  1. — Economy, economic policies and foreign trade
  2. — Framework for making and enforcing policies affecting foreign trade
  3. — Policies affecting trade in goods
  • Representatives of Somalia
  • Representatives of South Sudan

Followed by Q&R

15.30-15.45 Coffee Break

15.45-17.00 Technical Working Session on the Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR)

The main objective of this working session was to gather the essential information required to prepare the Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR). Based on discussions and presentations made by Somalia and South Sudan, this working session established the framework on which the Somali and South Sudanese officials could draft their respective MFTRs.

  • Accessions Division, WTO

Day 5: Friday, 1 September 2017

Specialized Training on WTO Accessions

For Government officials of Somalia and South Sudan

09.00-09.15 Recap of Day 4

  • Accessions Division, WTO

09.15-10.30 The Foreign Trade Regime of Somalia/South Sudan (continued…)

Following the establishment of an accession Working Party, the next stage is for the applicant to present factual information on their trade regime by submitting an official document called the Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR). The presentation of a comprehensive and accurate MFTR greatly facilitates the subsequent stages of the accession process. This session provided an overview of the subjects covered under three main chapters of the MFTR. Under each chapter, representatives of Somalia and South Sudan delivered a presentation on their respective domestic regimes.

  1. — Trade-related intellectual property regime
  2. — Trade-related services regime
  3. — Transparency framework
  4. — Trade agreements
  • Representatives of Somalia
  • Representatives of South Sudan

Followed by Q&R

10.30-10.45 Coffee Break

10.45-11.45 Technical Working Session on the Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR) (continued…)

The main objective of this working session is to gather the essential information required to prepare the Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR). Based on discussions and presentations made by Somalia and South Sudan, this working session established the framework on which the Somali and South Sudanese officials could draft their respective MFTRs.

  • Accessions Division, WTO

11.45-12.30 Technical Working Session on the Legislative Action Plan (LAP)

The Legislative Action Plan (LAP) provides the roadmap for WTO-related domestic legislative work and contains a full inventory of all trade-related legislation recently adopted and in preparation for enactment. This working session provided an overview on what is expected in the LAP with a view to producing a framework on which the Somali and South Sudanese technical teams could develop their respective LAPs.

  • Accessions Division, WTO

12.30-14.00 Lunch Break

14.00-15.30 Roundtable Discussion on Technical Assistance and Next-steps, including the Accession Roadmap

  • Accessions Division, WTO

15.30-16.00 Coffee Break

16.00-16.30 Closing Remarks

  • H.E. Ms. Khadra Ahmed Dualeh, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Somalia
  • H.E. Mr. Moses Hassan Ayet Tiel, Minister of Trade, Industry & Investment, South Sudan
  • Ms. Maika Oshikawa, Officer in Charge, Accessions Division, WTO

Footnotes

  1. Algeria, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya, Sao Tomé and Principe, Somalia and Sudan Back to text
  2. The participation of South Sudan, which is not a WTO observer, is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Back to text

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