REDEFINING YOUTH ENGAGEMENT WITH THE WTO
One of the objectives of the World Trade Organization is to build the capacity of developing country government officials in international trade as well as informing and educating the public about WTO; Its mission, objectives and activities.
There is a grave knowledge gap in this regard which has left out many young people willing o engage in trade ether locally, regionally and globally. This gap needed to be bridged and that’s the sole purpose of creating this vibrant and informative discourse.
Siasa Place having identified the gap and acknowledged the significance of the 10th Ministerial Conference, organized a policy roundtable [Policy Meza] on 14th of November at the Heinrich Boll Foundation and invited other youth focused organizations.
The participants came up with the World Trade Organization Youth Reference Group and the idea of the ‘World Trade Organization Youth Discourse’ so as to ensure that there is input from the youth that is considered during the Ministerial Conference deliberations.
Siasa Place being the group’s secretariat aimed to sensitize the youth and the general public about the World Trade Organization, while building their capacity to engage with government locally and competitively engage different traders at a global platform.
- To sensitize the public and particularly the youth about WTO; the activities, structure and benefits
- To receive and consider the collective opinion of represented youth groups
- To deliberate and agree on post MC10 activities and outcomes
Open Discourse Session by Ndereba Mwangi
A majority of the participants felt that indeed the WTO is relevant and necessary as it sets the guidelines on how trade is to be conducted. In capitalistic states where, especially the extractive industry is run by cartels, WTO steps in as a moderator.
However, Africa is yet to benefit from the policies set by the WTO. This is because the policies favour the developed countries. In Democratic Republic of Congo, they have a lot of resources, but much is still wanting in terms of regulating trade and taming corruption.
Rampant corruption and illegal trade remains the Achilles heel of major governments and the government itself is not doing anything to regulate this. Lack of goodwill from African governments also contributes to lacklustre in terms of both regional and international trade.
History of WTO by Shingoli
From the presentation on the history of the WTO, outstanding issues were highlighted: India and Brazil being considered as part of the developing countries; holding all negotiations as hostage.
Wording of the next declaration after the MC10
The MC10 should come up with more solutions; this will either make or break the forum. It was also seen that regional trade blocs should be made more robust and increase inter-trade.
Africa should produce and process its own produce for the African market first, then export to the rest of the world. Africa needs to reorganise itself and work together so as to have better negotiation power.
African countries indeed have the leverage to influence WTO policies. They only need to involve both the public and private sector; private sector controls a huge stake in the economy. In addition, Agricultural produce from Africa is highly sought after.
Africa needs a fair trading ground and hence we keep on hammering for favourable decisions to be made and that’s why the Doha development agenda is still on going to date.
Based on this, Africa indeed is influencing policy. WTO in Berlin proposed that domestic products should be supported in during the MC10.
The Future of WTO: Opportunities for the African Youth by Edwin H. Dande– C.E.O Cytonn Investments
Entrepreneurship should be highly encouraged as not all youth can be absorbed into the job market. Agribusiness is the bedrock of most African economies and therefore youth can venture into this.
There are several aspects in Agribusiness that youth entrepreneurs can look into, for example logistics. This mobility aspect poses a challenge to most farmers in terms of moving their produce from the farms to the factory.
Market sourcing is another aspect; there’s a huge demand for agricultural products world over, therefore the right partnerships need to be made.
Furthermore, youth are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the WTO, its mandate, policies so as to attain a deeper understanding of both regional and international trade.
Africa and Illicit Financial Flows by Crystal Simeoni– Tax Justice Network Africa
The role of the Youth and WTO in curbing the losses: This session was focused on the impact of taxes, illegal financial flows and loses that have ensued. It is an open secret that African loses billions in illicit flows and this has, still is and will always bleed the great continent to its destruction. The inequalities are evident when you start focusing on matters GDP vs GDP per Capita.
Fair Trade and Global Inclusivity by Sarah Ombinja
The Relationship between Regional Trading Blocs and Globalization was discussed. Issues such fair trade and leveling trading fields for youth and women is a question that the world needs to tackle. Subsidies that have killed the value of many African commodities is another key factor to be considered. How can we ensure that Africa has more than a seat at the negotiating table but most importantly a weighty voice?
Security and Trade by Kwìntah Odongo
For WTO to achieve its goal, it’s narrowed down to Trade and Peace or Trade and War.
It becomes an impracticality to even think of trading with insecure states and the current state of insecurity i.e. in Burundi, South Sudan etc goes without question. The prosperity, growth and expansion of trade can fully be achieved but only in secure states. Africa needs to strongly stand with states that are struggling with realising secure trading grounds and help them.
We are calling the youth to join the WTO Youth Reference Group that will run for the next two years until the next WTO MC11 meeting. The objective is to have youth voices in the policy formulation process. Siasa Place, as the secretariat, will with spearhead this process.