11TH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE PLENARY STATEMENT BY AMB. (DR.) AMINA C. MOHAMED, EGH, CAV, CABINET SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPUBLIC OF KENYA
MONDAY 11 DECEMBER, 2017: AT 11.00H
The Chairperson of the Eleventh Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, H.E. Susanna Malcorra,
Chairman of the General Council
The Director-General of the WTO,
Heads of Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by congratulating the Government and the people of Argentina for hosting the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference. We sincerely appreciate the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements put in place. Madam Chair, your leadership during this meeting has been legendary and you have our full support. I also congratulate the Director-General for getting all of us here. Let me also pay tribute to the indefatigable WTO Secretariat staff who have worked very hard to ensure that our participation at this Ministerial Conference is fully facilitated.
Allow me to convey a message of good will and success from the Government and the people of Kenya who have fond memories of hosting the tenth session of the Ministerial Conference (WTO MC10) and to assure you of their full support. We are confident that this eleventh session (WTO MC11) will build on the gains that we achieved in Nairobi and deliver further substantive outcomes with a strong development component. The world expects a positive, hopeful signal through this August gathering and we must rise to the occasion.
History teaches us that it is in precisely these times of uncertainty and economic difficulties that we all need to collectively ensure that the multilateral trading system remains resilient. Now more than ever, it is important that we, the Ministers responsible for international trade, voice our strong collective commitment to pen multilateralism and a WTO that delivers meaningful results.
To achieve this, we will need to work together over the next few days, with unity of purpose and resolve towards our common interest of safeguarding the WTO in all its functions-particularly its negotiating function, which is currently facing a few challenges.
WTO provides a platform for debate, discussions, consultations and dispute resolution. It is a comprehensive package designed to move the world from the throes of disagreement, misunderstanding, rigidity and conflict. It is the one thing that must remain a constant, providing an avenue to conclude, sometimes review old issues, discuss new ones, negotiate them and agree on new rules.
It is appropriate, adequate and sufficient. Moving away from it when it saves us from our worst instincts of ignoring and rejecting others, looking inward and becoming protectionist would leave our world more unequal and our communities more vulnerable.
We have proved, time and again, that consensus is possible. Partnerships work better than singularity. Having committed not ti leave anyone behind, WTO offers a mechanism where we can all engage and benefit from trade and international cooperation and economic growth. And yes we are not perfect and that’s why we must remain dynamic and continuously improve and remain relevant.
Ladies and Gentlemen
According to the WTO forecast, global trade continues to gradually gain momentum despite uncertainty in international the policy environment. This Conference, therefore, provides an additional much-needed opportunity to make decisions that will contribute to sustained growth in world trade ensuring that trade continues to play its full role in the development agenda, and in continuing to improve the lives of people around the world, in a very tangible manner. We must preserve our place and the place of WTO and we can do this by continuing to instil confidence in the multilateral trading system, by ensuring that we abide by the decisions that we have collectively taken by keeping our markets open, and ensuring that access to these markets is not disrupted by sudden and arbitrary imposition of unnecessary restrictions. We must underscore the importance of equitable distribution of the benefits of trade, as well as stress the WTO’s central role in supporting developing and especially, least developed countries, to fully integrate their economies into the multilateral trading system.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In Bali, we agreed on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was an important milestone towards removing the bureaucratic barriers to trade and a free flow of goods. Most businesses continue to realize a substantial reduction in the cost of doing business, particularly for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). As a country, we are working in close collaboration with all stakeholders on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to make a few observations on some of the critical things that we should aspire to achieve here in Buenos Aires:
First, in Nairobi, we took important decisions to reform global trade by eliminating agricultural export subsidies. In addition, we took crucial steps to address development concerns of the least developed countries. Full implementation of these decisions by Members remains a priority.
Second, continuation of the reform process in agriculture is a priority for many developing country members. We must therefore ensure that we sustain our efforts in addressing, on incremental basis, distortions in agriculture production and trade. We therefore support an outcome on Domestic support, including for cotton, with a clear work programme to address the outstanding issues post MC11.
Third, regarding Public stockholding for food security, we agreed in Nairobi to have a separate track to facilitate consensus on this issue without linkages to other DDA issues. In that regard, we expect to deliver a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes as per our agreement in Bali.
Fourth, we are also looking forward for substantive outcomes on fisheries subsidies and development related issues.
Fifth, as we are all aware, today’s global trade agenda is more complex than ever. We must attempt to continue updating our multilateral rulebook in order to ensure that other process such as bilateral and regional agreements are supportive and add value to the work of the WTO.
Finally, Kenya welcomes and supports the application of South Sudan to be an observer which opens the way for its accession to the WTO. We hope Members can accelerate the accession process of South Sudan as well as other countries so that the WTO can become a truly universal body.
Thank you for your attention.