Speaking at the Fourth China Round Table in Nairobi on 14 December, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta called for a successful outcome at the WTO’s Ministerial Conference starting today (15 December) so as to improve the welfare of people around the world, particularly in Africa. The Government of China pledged at the Round Table to contribute a further USD 500,000 (CHF 494,636) to the WTO’s Least-Developed Countries and Accessions Programme (also known as the China Programme) for 2016.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and China’s Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr Shouwen Wang, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the event. The MoU extends the China Programme for another year.
Initiated in July 2011 under the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative, the China Programme aims to help least-developed countries (LDCs) integrate more effectively into the global economy by strengthening their participation in WTO activities and by helping those not yet members to join the Organization.
President Kenyatta said: “This is the first time a Ministerial Conference is being held on the African continent. Therefore we have to ensure together a successful outcome. We must set a standard that makes a difference and improves the welfare of all of our people. The China Programme has emerged as a valuable mechanism aimed at further integrating the LDCs and the WTO’s recently acceded members into the global trade regime.”
DG Azevêdo said: “Supporting LDCs to reap the benefits of trade is a high priority for our work in the WTO. On behalf of WTO members, I would like to convey our sincere appreciation to the Government of China for this valuable support. We put a lot of focus on LDCs joining the organization, but of course it is only a means to an end. The hard work continues after the process of accession is complete.” His full speech is here.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Mrs Amina Mohamed, said: “This Round Table is taking place at an important time for the WTO. The Nairobi Ministerial Conference is the first to take place in Africa and marks the 20th anniversary of the Organization. This year has been momentous for WTO accessions — with the accessions of Seychelles, Kazakhstan, and soon Liberia and Afghanistan. The Round Table is an opportunity to discuss how domestic reforms can support countries’ economic development as a means of delivering sustainable development and improving the quality of peoples’ lives.” Her full speech is here.
China’s Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr Wang, said: “As a staunch supporter of the WTO’s Aid for Trade Initiative, China has provided trade-related technical assistance to LDCs under the China Programme in the past four years. The programme has played a positive and effective role in facilitating LDCs’ integration into the multilateral trading system. Today, we renewed our commitment to the programme and once again demonstrate our strong support for LDCs in the South-South cooperation framework. We appreciate close cooperation with the Secretariat and look forward to the successful implementation of the renewed programme.”
The China Programme supports and finances activities under five pillars:
1. WTO accession internships, involving the placement of interns in the WTO’s Accessions Division and the undertaking of thematic research projects (see more information)
2. WTO Accessions Round Table Meetings, including the Fourth Round Table in Nairobi (see the programme).
3. LDCs’ participation in WTO meetings, which they identify as their priorities. This has included some LDCs, such as African cotton-producing countries, participating in relevant WTO meetings.
4. South-South dialogue on LDCs and development, to periodically review South-South cooperation on trade, with a view to strengthening coordination among LDCs, and among LDCs and developing countries, in concluding WTO negotiations.
5. LDCs’ Trade Policy Review follow-up workshops, to disseminate the results of members’ Trade Policy Reviews, to encourage discussions with stakeholders related to trade policy reforms, and identify the trade-related technical assistance and capacity building needs, with a view to further integrating their trade policies into their overall development strategies.
Since 2008, China has contributed to the various WTO trust funds a total of USD 2,800,000.