Speech delivered by Dorothy Tembo, ITC Deputy Executive Director 20 July 2015, Nairobi - Kenya

20 July 2015
ITC News

Honorable Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for inviting the International Trade Centre to participate in this dialogue which will help pave the way for a successful 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Nairobi.

I bring you warm greetings for a successful debate from Arancha Gonzalez, the Executive Director of the ITC.

MC10 will be the bookend of what will be a truly transformative year for the international community. 2015 will map out where we go forward in the years to come in the areas of financing, climate change, trade and of course on development goals.

It is an opportunity for us to align the theory with the reality; to operationalise the words and the pledges; and to do so in a coherent, cohesive and evidence based manner.
The outcome of the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis last week bodes well for the global community’s desire to bridge gaps and reach outcomes.

The Ministerial Conference here in Nairobi will be a critical piece of the collage that we are collectively trying to develop: a world free from poverty that creates opportunities and jobs for all especially for vulnerable communities and in a manner that respects our planet. This is attainable. But it will take planning, dialogue and compromise.

Today’s debate is part of that planning and dialogue. It is an opportunity for African Trade Ministers to reaffirm their priorities and their positions but more importantly to discuss how to deliver on this in Nairobi.

The International Trade Center will continue to be your partner on this. As an organisation of both the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, we work with the private sector- the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) - to help translate market access opportunities into realities. What you agree in the WTO, what you decide to do at regional or national level to reduce obstacles to trade matters to SMEs. This is why it is important to deliver in Nairobi.

But it does not translate automatically into more trade by SMEs. Action is also needed on the supply side to help SMEs internationalise by building capacity along the whole value chain. Many of you are familiar with our work. From working with ethical fashion in Kenya and mangoes in Mali, to leveraging South-South cooperation in East Africa and building trade alert mechanisms in Cote d’Ivoire, ITC has continued to prioritise its assistance to and interventions in Africa.

In 2014 ITC made a compact with its members that at least 60% of our interventions would benefit LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS, Sub-Saharan Africa, post conflict and fragile states. We have committed to bring this to 70% in 2015. ITC is also in the process of opening an African liaison office in Addis that will further strengthen our presence in the region.

MC10 should aim to deliver on the DDA. This is the first Ministerial in Africa and African Ministers must help the host achieve a result. It may not be the result we would all want. But we need a result that credibilises the WTO and above all that helps place Africa as a contributor to solutions. There are many facets of that programme but I wish to focus on just two at this point: trade facilitation and services.

The Trade Facilitation agreement has been signed. The focus now is helping developing countries to operationalise the Agreement. Effective trade facilitation in a world where many countries want to move up the value chains is not an economic choice, it is an economic necessity to remain competitive.

To ensure that the TFA comes into force two thirds of the WTO members must ratify the agreement. The latest information from the WTO shows that only 8 of 161 WTO members have submitted their instrument of ratification, two of them from Africa. If you all ratify this agreement by Nairobi, the agreement could enter into force then. This would be a great deliverable.

The picture is a bit more positive when one looks at the number of countries that have already notified the manner in which they intent to implement their commitments.

ITC has been an active partner working with over 40 countries. Close to one third of countries notifying have been supported by ITC. Two developing countries supported by ITC have now ratified the agreement.

Just a few weeks ago we held a categorisation workshop for the COMESA countries and earlier this year did the same for countries in UEMOA. Along with UNCTAD, we are working to ensure that the private sector – and in particular SMEs -understands and contributes to the discussion. I want to be clear that on request we will be available to assist any country that needs this help.

On Services, ITC has worked very closely with the Least Developed Countries to increase awareness of the benefits of the services waiver in-country and to help to map out their services profiles. Just last month at the Global Aid for Trade Review, ITC launched a series of country fact sheets and an on-line Global Services Network connecting more than 800 stakeholders around the world. Services trade is the future of growth for many of our developing country clients and MC10 must continue to focus on how countries in Africa can take advantage of one of their greatest assets: an increasingly educated and innovative- and young- population.

The ITC was pleased to be involved in the launch of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) phase 2. This is the Aid for Trade connector for LDCs. During the MC10 there will be a pledging conference that will aim to finance the EIF to meet the growing demands, including in the areas of services. The voice of the African group in advance of this pledging conference is critical. You must ensure that the EIF is financed in a predictable and sustainable way and it is important that you get that message to development partners well in advance of December.

Before I close I want to focus a bit on SMEs. SMEs are the backbone of your economies. At ITC we work with SMEs and trade and investment support institutions to build the capacity to grow and create jobs through trade. There are many ways that we do this. Through providing trade and market intelligence; through identifying and addressing Non-tariff measures; through our work on standards especially on private sustainability standards; through developing innovative e-solutions including the launch of an on-line SME trade academy to build practical skills; through focusing on women’s economic empowerment; and also through helping SMEs connect and move up value chains ranging from coffee and IT to textiles and agri-processing. There is a need to better understand how the rules and discussions at the WTO impact on SMEs and the opportunities that are available for them to fully benefit from the market access openings which are being negotiated. There may be merit in considering a reference to SMEs as you discuss outcomes form MC10.

In closing I wish to inform you that at the invitation of the Honorable Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, ITC will be organising a Women in Business Forum on 11 December in advance of the WTO Ministerial. It will be an opportunity to feature women economic empowerment in the trade debate.

ITC stands ready to assist you as your require. See us as you partner as you prepare for MC10 and beyond.

Thank you