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Africa’s senior officials and experts are set to meet in Kenya next week to consider the future of the continent’s trade in light of the emergence of mega-trading blocs which exclude Africa, organizers said on Saturday. trade
The two-day meeting, which kicks off in Nairobi from Tuesday, is organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
Deodat Maharaj, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, described the conference as “essential” to amplify the concerns and interests of member countries excluded from key trade talks.
“With the next World Trade Organization conference to take place in Nairobi later in the year, this meeting is both timely and essential to bring together experts to advocate for the trade interests of excluded countries,” Maharaj said in a statement received in Nairobi.
“It will be an opportunity to ensure member states do not lose out, and to find ways to boost trade in the region, vital for sustainable economic growth,”he said.
Maharaj said participants at the May 26-27 meeting will look at ways to ensure the trade interests of African countries are taken into account at global and regional levels.
Maharaj said the world economy has seen a seismic shift in the trading environment with the rise of regional giants dominating the landscape.
The advent of mega-trading blocs — the Transpacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in Asia — have significant implications for regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, which, so far, has been bypassed by negotiations.
“More than 160 countries are excluded from these mega-regional negotiations, including the entire Sub-Saharan Africa. The Commonwealth, therefore, has taken a leading role in raising global awareness of the implications of mega-trading blocs for countries squeezed out of deals,” he said.
Maharaj said the conference will provide a unique platform for policymakers, standard-setting bodies, experts and researchers to assess the impact of mega-trading blocs on Sub-Saharan Africa, share expertise and explore strategic responses.
Mohammad Razzaque, Acting Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Trade Division said the mega-regional blocs could be major game-changers for world trade.
“Sub-Saharan African countries could face greater competition in their key export markets, while investment may be diverted when countries cannot meet the stricter rules and standards introduced by these major new agreements,” Razzaque added. Enditem

-Xinhua

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