World Trade Organisation members stuck to their guns at the opening of the 10th ministerial meeting as opposing camps emerged on the first day of the talks.
Developed nations, including the European Union and Australia, insisted that a deal on the Doha Round could not be reached, while developing countries insisted the agenda must be included.
The developed nations feel the talks that have been stuck for 14 years should be wound up to pave the way for new issues.
Kenya and other developing nations insisted on the opening remarks made by Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho that promises made in Doha, especially on agricultural subsidies that distort trade, must be delivered.
Germany, Canada and Italy proposed avoiding the tough issue to deliver a compromise package to ensure a multilateral system remains in place.
EU Commissioner of Trade Cecilia Malmström said Nairobi should deliver on realistic outcomes, especially in a package for the least developed countries (LDCs) — a group of 48 countries.
“We have an obligation to deliver for these economies, the issues in front of us are doable if we have enough leadership. Time has come to conclude the (Doha) deal so that we can set realistic outcomes to make the multilateral fairer and doable,” she said.
Ms Malmström said the EU was prepared to support more beneficiary rules of origin, market access by enhancing border trade, but would not “continue to do what we have been doing in the 15 years and expect different results”.
She added that insisting on Doha in Nairobi would only deliver little outcomes.
China’s minister of Commerce, Mr Gao Hucheng, insisted the Doha Round must be implemented to reduce growing gaps between the rich and poor countries as a result of unequal opportunities.
“The Doha Round is important, it is the development round, and development is the key to resolve global issues we face today,” said Mr Gao.
Brazil Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Luiz Iecker Vieira said delegates were committed to leaving Nairobi with an agreement on prohibition of agricultural subsidies and a package for the LDCs.
Failure to deliver on this would mean that the outcome would be cosmetic and the credibility of WTO would crumble, he said.
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the ministers were putting the multilateral system at risk by sticking to the thorny issues.
He warned that WTO had failed to deliver on any tariffs since the Uruguay Round, while free trade agreements and plurilateral pacts are flourishing outside the WTO.
At the same time, the youth want to be part of the negotiations through a Youth Ambassador Programme that was disbanded for lack of funds.
The programme raises awareness on international economic governance issues.
Vision 2030 Youth Entrepreneurs Associates Chairperson Edward Muito yesterday spoke for the youth in Kenya, Rwanda, Conakry, Guinea, Korea, UK and US.
He said at a press briefing on the sidelines of the WTO negotiations that there was urgent need to slot back the programme.
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