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CSO to LDCs: No deal is better than a bad one

By Joan Akello

The civil society is urging least developed countries (LDCs) to rethink signing treaties because they may get raw deals in the end.

Ambassador Nathan Irumba the CEO of Southern and East African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) says the onus is on the negotiators for LDCs to ensure that they do not sign agreements that may jeopardize the interests of their countries.


He was speaking at a workshop with stakeholders in the negotiations for the forthcoming ministerial conference from Dec. 3-6th in Bali, Indonesia.

The conference, held every two years, is the apex World Trade Organization body responsible for decision making. Since its inception in 1994, the WTO has held eight ministerial conferences meetings.

Some of the issues for the discussion include trade Facilitation; agriculture; special and Differential Treatment that is LDC specific issues including services waiver, DFQF market access, Rules of Origin and cotton.

Dr. Elizabeth Tamale, Assistant Commissioner Trade in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives said that Information and Telecommunication Agreement (ITA) expansion, Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and Global Aid Review may also be discussed.

She added that the negotiators have to place the interests of the developing countries at the heart of the Doha Work Program (DWP) and also negotiate on implementation issues.

Jane Nalunga, the SEATINI country director said, “The devil is in the details. For example the article that stipulates that prior consultation must be done before a policy passed,” she says “this will intrude on the domestic policy making process and also a threat to parliament.”

Prof. Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a History don at Makerere University said the negotiators should not only focus of the issues but also on the process, actors, institutions and ideological factors that will influence the negotiations. “For instance, is the trade facilitation for improving social values like life or for profit?” Ndebesa asked.

Tamale said that much as trade facilitation is a means of advancing the global value chain, LDCs may not benefit because of low technological development.

Although some argue that Trade facilitation agreement facilitates exports of developed countries rather than exports of developing countries, Tamale says that imports do not necessarily create exports.

Abubakar Muhammad Moki, Assistant Commissioner Economic Affairs in the ministry of East Africa Community Affairs also a member of the national trade negotiating team and Inter Institutional Trade Committee (IITC) says Uganda needs to concentrate on what will make it more competitive.

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