Africa to negotiate for better terms at WTO meet

Africa must demand new global copyright rules in the forthcoming World Trade Organisation meeting to be held in Nairobi at the end of the year.
The rules would empower the continent to gain from global trade, since the current rules, known as Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) under the Doha Declaration, favour developed nations.
“What African countries need to do today is to make progress and embrace new challenges. The negotiations in December should address needs and solutions for the continent,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).
Dr Kituyi said the Doha agenda did not adequately reflect the problems of Africa today.
The November 2001 Declaration of the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, provides the mandate for negotiations on agriculture, services, intellectual property and issues concerning the implementation of trade agreements.
Dr Kituyi said regional trade blocs in Africa need to strengthen their bargaining power and integrate their economies to maximise trade opportunities.
“In an increasingly large trading world, Africa’s fractured economy is just too small to make sense to investors when compared with developed nations’ large scale consumer and talent pool, which can only be acquired by enhanced regional integration,” he said.
Pan-African network
The Unctad secretary-general challenged leaders across the continent to develop a pan-African infrastructure network to improve trade.
“Improve infrastructure to increase trade, install capacity for service trade and go for all available opportunities,” Dr Kituyi added.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said Africa joins the negotiations as a team to improve its stake in global trade.
African leaders, Ms Mohammed said, will capitalise on the Lagos Plan of Action, where regional entities were formed as the first building blocks towards a continental Free Trade Area.
“We will go into the Nairobi round-table as a bloc to ensure our priorities, our expectations and our concerns are part of the deal,” said Ms Mohamed.
Nearly 7,000 delegates are expected to attend the Ministerial Conference, now in its 10th edition, and the first ever to be held in Africa. The decision to hold this year’s meeting in Nairobi was made by the World Trade Organisation General Council following a campaign led by Ms Mohamed.