News / Africa

Ethiopia Seeks to Keep Trade Restrictions While Joining WTO

Ethiopia Seeks to Keep Trade Restrictions While Joining WTO
Ethiopia Seeks to Keep Trade Restrictions While Joining WTO

Ethiopia is asking to join the World Trade Organization without meeting WTO standards for liberalizing key sectors of its economy. The move is an attempt to kick-start Ethiopia’s WTO accession process, which has been stalled for seven years.

Senior World Trade Organization officials joined a delegation from Ethiopia’s Trade Ministry this week for a U.S.-government sponsored workshop.  The objective was finding a middle ground between Ethiopia’s refusal to open sectors such as banking and telecommunications to foreign competition, and the WTO open trade regime.

Reuters news agency quoted State Minister for Trade Yacob Yalla as saying that surrendering sensitive areas such as banking and telecoms would harm national interests. He expressed confidence Ethiopia’s accession would be finalized, but said "we expect them to respect our sensitivities”"

But the head of the WTO working party on Ethiopia, Steffen Smidt, says the country’s future trading partners would likely insist on an end to restrictive trade practices.

"When you enter into a trading arrangement, you automatically get access to other countries’ trade, based on the principle we called MFN. Most Favored Nation," he said. "Similarly, other countries get access to yours.  So in that sense there is automatically in some areas some opening up, or liberalization."

But the WTO representative said Ethiopia’s position as one of Africa’s poorest and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) might warrant consideration from trading partners.

"Those are the future partners in the WTO who would insist on having some sort of access in this area," he said. "So that they will respect that Ethiopia is a Least Developed Country, and Least Developed Countries have special principles people should adhere to, sort of guidelines that speak about restraints from other partners, so yes, there will be a deep negotiation on this."

The two-day workshop featured presentations by representatives of Cambodia and Yemen who led their countries’ WTO accession process.  Cambodia’s Sok Siphana said his country has been transformed since emerging from economic isolation on joining the WTO in 2004.

"We knew what isolation means, we knew what poverty is, we went through a very difficult period, so for us, we want to be part of the world trading community, and we felt that the WTO gave us that overarching development objective, and from there on, we never looked back," he said.

Siphana told Ethiopians at the conference that opening Cambodia’s banking sector triggered a surge in rural development.

"Our banking sector is thriving, now they are in position to move to rural areas, to start lending to rice millers, rice exporters, not something you would see from a banking sector that is cash poor," he said. "[They are] cash rich, they see the country developing. "

He says Cambodia has dreams of becoming one of Asia’s information technology centers.

"We even have as recently as two-three months ago formation of all IT companies in Cambodia, and their vision is in five years, they want to position Cambodia as one of the Asian Silicon Valleys," he said.  "Now that’s bold."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel leader who seized power 20 years ago, said in 2009 he hoped to complete WTO membership within three years. WTO representative Smidt expressed hope the accession could be done promptly, but cautioned that the process is still in a preliminary stage after a seven-year hiatus.

You May Like

Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid