Developing Nations' Patience Thin With WTO Progress, Kenya Says

Developing countries are running out of patience with the lack of progress on key issues in the World Trade Organization, Kenyan Foreign and International Trade Minister Amina Mohamed said.

“For us, as developing countries, patience is running out,” Mohamed told reporters on Tuesday at the opening of the WTO’s 10th ministerial conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “We have been paying for a very long time, it is now time for the system to give back.”

Trade ministers from the WTO’s 162 members are attending the biennial meeting starting on Tuesday. One of the ongoing discussions is the so-called Doha round of talks that began in the Qatari capital about 15 years ago. The negotiations were meant to add billions of dollars to the global economy by spurring cross-border commerce but have been hampered by differences between wealthy and poor nations, chiefly over subsidized farming in the developed world. 

Only 57 members have signed the Trade Facilitation Agreement, a compromise deal to improve customs procedures for goods from least-developed countries. Two-thirds are needed to assent the accord.

“A decision needs to made here in Nairobi as to what we need to do with this organization,” Mohamed said. “Do we strengthen its negotiating function by making sure that we tackle all the issues that are on the table? Or we will get rid of the negotiating function, because it obviously is not working for us.”

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