Kenyan official wary of recent WTO classification

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Kenyan authorities say they are unhappy with a recent decision made during a World Trade Organisation conference in Hong Kong excluding the country from a list of the world's least developed countries.
The WTO, however, listed Uganda and Tanzania, who are Kenya's fellow members in the East African Community (EAC) regional economic block, as LDC's.
Following the December 2005 classification, Uganda and Tanzania could now enjoy certain benefits in the world market that Kenya would not be available to Kenya, Bonny Khalwale, the Kenyan deputy minister for East African and regional cooperation, complained.
“This situation is very unfortunate since the three member countries envisage a situation where they can trade as a block.
"Classifying Uganda and Tanzania as least developed nations and skipping Kenya is a threat to the gains that we have made in the (EAC) cooperation," he complained during an East African Legislative Council (EALC) meeting held in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa late Saturday.
Khalwale maintained that the different listing might create fear among member states that Kenya would flood goods and services in neighbouring countries and overrun their local industries, “a scenario which is not true.
” "Trading as a block has economic benefits as you consolidate the gains made through enjoying duty free and quota free privileges," he added.
To cushion EAC member countries from negative local and regional implications arising from the classification, he disclosed, they had formed a symmetry rule that allows goods from Kenya to be taxed in both Uganda and Tanzania for five years while the other countries may bring their goods into Kenya tax free for two years.
"We are hoping that emerging global trends will not undermine our unity," he added.
Member countries of the East African community will meet during the month of May to review progress that has been made through the various protocols, Khalwale said.

26 march 2006 10:52:00

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