WTO talks: Kenya backs food security, farmers’ interests

This shows that the concerns of developing economies and least developed countries are linked," said Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman

December 16, 2015 01:13 am | Updated November 28, 2021 11:04 am IST - NAIROBI:

The Kenyan President said the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, was the first under the ongoing Doha Round of talks of the WTO (for a deal to open up world trade) that succeeded in concluding negotiations in a limited number of areas including the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The Kenyan President said the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, was the first under the ongoing Doha Round of talks of the WTO (for a deal to open up world trade) that succeeded in concluding negotiations in a limited number of areas including the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

India said it was significant that Kenya, the country hosting the WTO Ministerial Conference, backed issues of interest to the developing countries, including on food security rights and ensuring the protection of poor farmers from the heavily subsidised agricultural imports from the rich world.

Referring to the speech given by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during the official opening of the WTO's Ministerial Conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre here, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The Kenyan president spoke what many of us have felt. He spoke about the need to address the Doha Development Agenda in its entirety and the need for this ministerial to deliver a successful outcome. It was heartening to know that the emphasis is on agriculture and protection of the livelihoods of poor farmers.”

“This shows that the concerns of emerging and developing economies as well as the least developed countries (many of which are in Africa) are linked,” the minister told reporters on Tuesday.

The Kenyan President said the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, was the first under the ongoing Doha Round of talks of the WTO (for a deal to open up world trade) that succeeded in concluding negotiations in a limited number of areas including the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

It was important to build on the Bali Ministerial Declaration, and agree on tangible outcomes in Nairobi to give credibility to the WTO as a rule-based organization, he added. The agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round are the ones from which developing countries can derive most gains, Kenyatta said. Agriculture is particularly important for Africa considering that majority of the population depends on it for food, livelihood, and employment, he added.

However, distortions in this sector have continued to prevent Africa from realizing its full potential, he pointed out, adding that Africa’s farmers cannot compete against heavily subsidized farmers in developed countries.

In this connection, the Doha Round of negotiations in agriculture provides the best opportunity to address the distortions and align global trade with Africa's development goals, he said.

Kenyatta asked all WTO member countries to accelerate toward a positive end to the long journey (of Doha Round talks, which began in 2001) to establish a fair and market-oriented trade in agriculture. He said Africa is ready to do all it can to ensure the success of the Nairobi Ministerial Conference.

Sitharaman said she felt encouraged from Kenyatta's statement, adding that African nations are likely to stand by India in its fight to secure the interests of the developing and the poor world.

India to help on contentious issues

Meanwhile, India is part of a newly constituted smaller group of countries which will steer the talks on different contentious issues, and then take them to the larger group for consensus building, sources said.

The WTO director general Roberto Azevedo and Amina Mohamed, the chair of the Nairobi ministerial conference and Cabinet Secretary in Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, will coordinate on critical issues which need political will and inputs to ensure a successful outcome to the Ministerial Conference, they said.

India has also made it clear that protection of poor farmers’ interests and its food security programmes are not up for any bargain at the negotiations.

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