By Claire Wanja

NAIROBI, Dec 15 (NNN-KBC) — President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has called for the strengthening of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to enable it to fulfill its mandate effectively.

The WTO, which was established on the foundation of non-discrimination, a rules-based global market economy, trade openness, transparency, and the rule of law, is a central pillar of global economic governance, he said here Monday.

President Kenyatta said when he opened the Fourth China Round Table, which forms part of China’s Accessions to the WTO Programme, that the WTO is a valuable mechanism for strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system.

The President said the questions and thematic focus of the Nairobi China Round Table establish the right policy context regarding Africa’s position in WTO in relation to the international community.

“One of the principal gains from this process has to be the further integration of Least Developed Countries and newly Acceded Members into the Global trade regime,” President Kenyatta said.

He said the 4th China Round Table and the 20th Ministerial WTO conference, which begins here Tuesday, provided an opportunity to re-affirm the centrality of the WTO in international co-operation.

President Kenyatta emphasized the need for African countries to urgently diversify their economies, re-establish their manufacturing base and integrate into value chains. Although the continent had registered robust growth, manufacturing was failing and the industrial process weak, he added.

The President said African countries must make the right policy choices and implement them all the way. “The primary responsibility to industrialize is with Africa. We need to deepen and sustain domestic economic, legal, institutional and structural reforms,” he said.

The Fourth China Round Table was held ahead of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi – the first to be held in Africa.

Chinese Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen said the round table was in agreement that increased trade and investment was key in creating more jobs and prosperity leading to peace and stability in the world.

WTO Director-General Robert Azevêdo said issues being discussed in the forum will be key to the agenda of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the organization.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi also spoke at the event. — NNN-KBC