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WTO Conference to benefit Malawi farmers

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Malawi is set to benefit more from the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation taking place in Nairobi Kenya, where President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged the world ministers and other delegates to rise to the occasion and come up with solid agreements that will guarantee a more open trading platform in the world.

Leading the Malawi delegation is Minister of Industry and Trade Joseph Mwanamveka told The Daily Times after the departure of President Kenyatta at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre that Malawi is want to use this gathering to spur its economic growth and end poverty.

“The main thrust of this Nairobi meeting is for Least Developed countries like Malawi to ensure that there is access into the markets of developed countries of the west in order to level the playing field,” he said.

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Mwanamveka who is a 12-memberdelegation also said as Malawi the conference has also given them an opportunity to think deep on deciding the ratification of trade facilitation document.

“A few countries have signed and when we go back we will hold discussions with all relevant the stakeholders including the private sector to discuss way forward on how to proceed,” he said.

Mwanamveka who is leading a team that comprise officials from the private sector, his ministry, Malawi Revenue Authority, justice ministry and officers from Malawi’s Brussels office who participated in negotiations also said they have had a number of bilateral meetings with Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi facilitated by DIFD and Trade Hub before the opening.

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He also said under the agriculture related negotiations which is at the moment fraught with conflicts mostly between developed and developing countries they will push for a mechanism that ensure that the farmers are able to know the prices of their commodity, locally, regionally as well as globally.

“We need to empower the farmer so that the middle men can no longer take advantage of the farmers,” he said.

He said in the case of Malawi vendors normally buy the commodities at lower prices and sell them at higher price at their appropriate time.

“I will give you an example of the soya trade, farmers were selling to the middle me at K70 to K100 a kilogram but now the same soya selling at commodity exchange is fetching K700 a kilogram. Can you imagine if the farmer was able to get this amount; it means he will be able to grow more, will be able to generate more forex , and improve their livelihoods,” he said.

He also disclosed that the Malawi cabinet ministers will also soon conduct a cabinet retreat to discuss Malawi’s trade so that ministers can also understand how we can reduce poverty and achieve economic growth through trade.

In his opening remarks that was also attended by Liberian President was attended Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda Kenyan President pledged Africa’s commitment to the full implementation of deals that are will be entered in the week-long meeting.

“As we look forward to the next 20 years of collective effort to build prosperity, we should get encouraged from the achievements of the WTO,” he said.
Kenyatta said Africa and indeed the whole world eagerly await the completion of a framework for a new order of sustainable development.

“That ambition, which once seems distant, is now within reach given the singular achievement as multilateral community that we have seen in this year,” he said.
Other than developmental talks, President Kenyatta told the and over 6,000 delegates to come up with lasting solutions on insecurity, instability and inequality.
He said the World Trade Organisation has so far helped boost international trade, resolve dispute among members and support the developing countries.

“The growing membership of the organisation, it’s a strong endorsement of its continued relevance’s,” he said acknowledging that during this particular meeting Liberia and Afghanistan will be accepted into the WTO following accession process.
Kenyatta however warned that lack of adequate economic opportunities becomes the driver of social as well as political instability which also help drive extremism and violence.

Before him Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development Mukhisa Kituyi and President Sirleaf also addressed the delegates.
Mwanamveka said the whole trip for his team has been funded by WTO.

Ministerial Conferences take place every two years. These conferences are the pre-eminent decision-making body of the World Trade Organization and include ministers from all 162 WTO members.

Typically at these gatherings Ministers review current work of the WTO, take decisions on issues which the WTO delegations have put before them and on occasion take action to bring new members into the WTO. For Nairobi, ministers will decide on potential membership deals for Afghanistan and Liberia, two Least-developing countries which have completed their accession negotiations in recent months.

Ministers also seek to decide on a number of negotiating topics included in the Doha Development Agenda, such as in agriculture and issues of interest for LDCs.

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