Ploumen: ‘The world can be proud of Nairobi’

Foreign trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen applauded the agreement reached in Nairobi yesterday evening at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ministerial conference on the Doha Round. The minister, who herself played an active role in the Kenyan capital last week, called the outcome a breakthrough: ‘For a long time it looked like the conference would not yield substantial results towards promoting world trade. It was touch and go, but we’ve achieved a good outcome in the end – one that will also benefit developing countries and the WTO’s poorest members. The world can be proud of what’s been achieved in Nairobi.’

Over the last decade, ministerial conferences on the Doha Round have been held every two years, but until now hardly any progress had been made. The stalemate was caused by differences between developed countries, economic blocs, emerging economies and developing countries on how global trade should be promoted. More than once, doubts were raised about the viability of the multilateral system, which requires the agreement of all countries before a decision can be made. ‘Nairobi has shown the continuing great value of the multilateral system,’ Ms Ploumen asserted. ‘At the same time, we need to think about how we can avoid new conflicts and delays in the future. We need to talk about renewing the process as well as the agenda. That doesn’t mean current themes on which countries have not reached agreement should be struck off the agenda. And the interests of the poorest countries should always come first.’ Ms Ploumen will promote this discussion in her role as chair of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) in the first half of 2016.

Nairobi Package

The agreements reached at the ministerial conference have been dubbed the Nairobi Package. The most important agreement concerns the accelerated phasing out of agricultural export subsidies, in line with developing countries’ forceful demands. Other agreements made in Nairobi include phasing out agricultural credits. ‘We have taken major steps. Now it’s time to implement the agreement. Our key aims are economic growth and new jobs, which will improve prospects for the world’s poorest populations in particular,’ Ms Ploumen said. ‘At the UN we recently adopted the ambitious Global Goals in order to eradicate extreme poverty around the world by 2030. More and fairer world trade will be crucial to achieving that goal.’

Ministers in Nairobi also adopted an agreement on duty-free trade in 201 information technology products. ‘That too will boost growth and create jobs,’ the minister said. ‘Don’t forget that this sector is bigger than, for instance, the textiles or car indu