by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s ministry of foreign affairs will next week convene a forum on fast-tracking the process of joining World Trade Organization(WTO) by countries in the greater Horn of Africa region.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed, said the Aug. 28-30 regional conference will build on previous initiatives aimed at facilitating Horn of Africa countries to become part of the multilateral trading regime.
“The regional dialogue meeting has been convened for four African countries from the greater horn of Africa region that are in the process of acceding to WTO,” said Mohamed.
The target countries include Union of Comoros, Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Federal Republic of Somalia and Republic of the Sudan.
South Sudan which has expressed interest to join WTO will also participate, she added.
The foreign minister revealed that China, Liberia, Oman, Yemen and Seychelles have also been invited to attend the regional forum.
“Their participation is significant as they are expected to share their accession experiences,” said Mohamed, adding that representatives of multilateral institutions and regional trade blocs will also be in attendance.
Senior policymakers, diplomats and experts from the Horn of Africa region will attend the Nairobi forum that aims to revitalize the momentum towards securing membership to WTO.
Mohamed said delegates will agree on a raft of resolutions aimed at positioning Horn of Africa states to become key players in global trade.
“The regional dialogue conference will offer a platform to exchange experiences and lessons learned from accession processes in the region. Delegates will reflect on ways in which the WTO membership can foster regional integration and cooperation,” Mohamed told reporters.
She added the forum will inspire other African countries to lend support towards establishment of a fair multilateral trading regime.
Kenya hosted the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in December 2015 when Liberia and Afghanistan formally joined WTO.
Mohamed said the Nairobi meeting laid a foundation for a just and inclusive global trading system that has inspired confidence among African states.
“Currently, 8 out of 21 countries on the queue for WTO membership are from Africa and several lie within the greater horn of Africa,” said Mohamed.
She disclosed that Kenya will provide technical expertise to neighboring countries to hasten their accession to WTO.