G7, Africa collaboration is key to an inclusive global trade, growth system


Delegates attend the closing session of a World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference at the WTO headquarters in Geneva on June 17, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

The G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting is a key gathering of top trade officials from the seven most industrialised countries in the world. These are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the participation of the EU trading bloc.

Kenya is one of the five countries outside the G7 that were invited to the ministers’ meeting in Osaka, Japan between October 28-29, 2023. Others were Australia, Chile, India, and Indonesia. International organisations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also attended.

The G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting is an important forum for reflection on key issues affecting global trade. This year's key topics included: advancing talks at the WTO for a fairer, more sustainable global trading system; diversification of global supply chains; and the importance of building a strong partnership with the Global South for manufacturing, including energy and transportation assets.

These are important topics for the continent. A fairer trading system will increase Africa’s share of global trade. Kenya, alongside other African countries, supports the multilateral trading system and is committed to working with other countries to strengthen the WTO, particularly with regard to inclusive trade that benefits Africa’s developmental aspirations.

Further, Kenya is keen on attracting more investment and trade from the G7 countries and the rest of the world. Alongside other African countries, Kenya has a number of competitive advantages, such as a young and growing workforce, a strategic location, and a firm commitment to pursuing futuristic economic reforms.

Better integration into global value chains may mean more opportunities in manufacturing including automotive, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and devices, textiles and apparel, semi-conductors, car batteries and several other products.

Kenya's participation in this meeting—on behalf of Africa—was therefore a significant development, as it reflects the country's growing significance in the global economy and its commitment to promoting a free and open trade system, particularly for Africa.

At this meeting, I advanced Kenya’s and Africa’s vision for a stronger, fairer multilateral trade system and one that delivers economic security for all. I further called for stronger partnerships with international manufacturing firms to locate their production processes in Africa, and for the G7 countries and the rest of the world to collaborate with African countries to further develop their innovation eco-systems and access to finance, including global venture capital.

Opportunities to advance these measures included speakerships at the G7 Trade Ministers’ Summit, The Outreach Forum, the Japan-Kenya Business Summit, and a series of bi-lateral meetings with my ministerial counterparts from the G7 countries.

These conversations have led me to further reflect on Kenya's Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), the country's economic development over the next several years. The agenda is focused on creating jobs, reducing poverty, and improving the livelihoods of all Kenyans through the core pillars of Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) economy, Housing and Settlement, Healthcare and Digital Superhighway and Creative Economy.

And in the context of trade, BETA has opportunities for diversifying our economy, creating opportunities for small businesses and workers. BETA is also expected to create more opportunities for expanding external trade, particularly for small businesses through increasing connectivity and e-commerce systems, improving aggregation of goods and creating trading platforms such as commodity exchanges that can trade with the world.

As we implement BETA, and advance Kenya’s and Africa’s interests in global trade fora such as the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting, we are keen to work together with other developing nations to advance fairer, more sustainable trade, partner with G7 countries and others to increase Kenya’s and Africa’s share of global trade and secure our future generations by modernizing manufacturing for greater participation in global supply chains.

We are further keen to ensure that we attract both domestic and foreign direct investment, in order to capitalize our ambitions in global supply chains. To achieve this, we will work closely with commercial banks, development finance institutions, venture capital and established manufacturers to stimulate investment.

We will also implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will increase trade between African countries while further strengthening Africa’s ability to cumulate raw materials and manufacture within the continent.

As with the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting, Kenya will continue to provide leadership in conversations that define the global trading system, global supply chains and a more globally integrated Africa.

Rebecca Miano is Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry in Kenya.


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