STATEMENT BY KENYA ON THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MINISTERIAL DECLARATION: 2 OCTOBER 2001.
My delegation would like to thank you and the Director General for the tireless efforts you have put in producing the text before us. Judging by your introductory note it was not an easy task. As we await detailed instructions from our capital, permit us to make the following preliminary remarks that we hope will assist in developing a balanced text acceptable to all Members.
We would also wish to associate ourselves with the statement that was made by Zimbabwe on behalf of the African Group on the draft text.
While we appreciate the important role the multilateral trading system has played in promoting economic growth, development and employment throughout the past fifty years, the results have not been uniform in all countries. There is adequate literature indicating that some countries especially those in Africa have not benefited as much from the MTS. In this regard, a reaffirmation of the potential contribution of the MTS to the promotion of economic growth, development and employment in line with the preamble of Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO would suffice. As stated by Zimbabwe on behalf of the African Group, we believe international trade can play a key role in alleviating poverty while all our people should benefit from the increased opportunities and welfare gains generated by the system. Kenya, therefore, supports the idea of placing development, and the interests and needs of developing and least developed countries at the heart of the WTO’s work. In this regard the declaration will need to come up with development agenda for the interests and needs of developing and least developed countries to be at the core of the WTO’s work.
In stressing our commitment to the WTO as the forum for global trade rule-making and liberalization, it would also be important to recognize the important role that regional trade arrangements play as building blocks to multilateral trading system. On coherence it should be made clear that what we are seeking is greater coordination and cooperation between the WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions in global economic policy-making as contained in Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO.
We would like to de-link accession and internal transparency as there is no direct correlation between the two.
In Kenya’s view, internal transparency in decision-making process in the WTO and how it responds to the challenges arising from the MTS is of paramount importance. In deed a transparent WTO to its Members will be more credible to the outside world.
We need some clarification on paragraph 9 since it suggests a comprehensive agenda that has yet to be agreed. For my delegation, we would like to leave it out for the time being until Members agree on the future work program.
As the operative part of the declaration is incomplete, it behoves us to expedite the completion of the work on sections relating to Implementation, TRIPS and public health, Special and differential treatment and Agriculture, as agreement on these important issues will contribute to our achievement of a balanced text. Nevertheless we wish to state the following:
On the issue of non-agricultural market access, in para 13, Kenya supports the statement made by Tanzania on behalf of LDCs on the establishment of a study process to examine the effects that previous tariff reductions have had on the economies and social development of developing countries, including the impact on local firms and on employment, and on government revenues. The study process should also examine the possible effects of future tariff reductions on individual countries. The study process should also make clear that exemptions from further liberalization commitments would be given to developing countries that have been and would be adversely affected. Like many other developing countries, we have undertaken import liberalization in industrial products and there have been negative impacts such as de-industrialization, where local firms have closed and many workers lost their jobs. We feel there should now be a rethinking on the relation between liberalization and development, in that each country to suit its own conditions, should tailor the speed, scope and sectors of import liberalization.
Regarding the section on TRIPS in paras 14-17, we share the disappointment by a number of developing countries about the lack of substance or progress reflected therein. There has been a public outcry worldwide about the negative effects of TRIPS on prices of medicines and other essentials, about biopiracy and the patenting of life forms, about the threats to food security and farmers’ livelihoods. This section must be revised to take these concerns into account. There should also be a link between this draft and the separate declaration on TRIPS and Public health.
On the new issues or Singapore issues, Kenya believes that starting negotiations on these issues would not be appropriate. The issues involved are very complex, as the work of the working groups has shown. There are many divergent views on what each topic means, and how it should be treated, or not treated, in the context of trade and of the WTO. Kenya is concerned that multilateral rules in these proposed new areas will lead to further obligations that will again limit our development options and prospects. We are, therefore, not in a position to agree to start negotiations on these new issues. Instead, the work of the working groups on the four Singapore issues should continue.
Since there is an emerging consensus regarding the issue of reorienting the WTO work programme by placing development at its core, we believe that issues that comprise the development agenda of developing and least developed countries need to be given positive consideration. This includes placing new emphasis on access to technology, trade and finance, trade and debt as well as trade in primary commodities and integrating them into the WTO future work programme.
On the section on the organization of the work programme, we find that the way it has been drafted implies that the future work of the WTO will be organized around the modalities of a New Round. These elements include ending all negotiations by a certain date, forming a Trade Negotiations Committee, the single undertaking, and possible additions of negotiating topics at the next Ministerial Conference.
The experience of the comprehensive Uruguay Round shows that developing countries were disadvantaged by a broad-based Round of negotiations with single undertaking. We have yet to recover from the negative effects of previous Round and the seemingly entrenched problems of implementation are there as evidence of what we are unable to digest. Kenya is, therefore, not in a position to agree to the elements of another broad-based round. We do not want to run the high risk of being involved in another Round with so many new issues, which will generate more problems of implementation in future. This would risk making the WTO an anti-developmental organization, a risk that all of us must avoid.
We therefore propose that in your next draft you replace this section with a simple text to the effect that the work envisaged in the World Programme would be conducted in the respective bodies of the WTO under the supervision of the General Council, and that the General Council will place the results of the work before the next Ministerial Conference.
My delegation is ready and willing to engage in consultations aimed at improving the draft which will meet the noble objective stated in paragraph 2 of your text and I quote “we seek to place the interests and needs of developing and least developed countries at the heart of the WTO’s work”.